To view our full programme of events and workshops for all ages, please see the outline below, or click here to see our full brochure: What’s On at the DEI […]
Please note the Institution will close at 1pm on the 20th October to allow all to take part.
From joining junior members to make your own astounding inventions, to discovering more about our delightful heritage haven and living library in the heart of the city, or viewing new works by Ingrid Pollard, artist, research partner and Turner prize nominee, we hope we can inspire you to take part in England's largest celebration of history and culture with us this year!
As it is the season to be poking around in rock pools and enjoying the Devon coast, our Book of the Month is Landsborough’s A popular history of British sea-weeds. Published in 1849, this work invited amateur and expert alike to take delight in the natural history of the seashore. The DEI is lucky to hold a copy formerly owned by Mrs Griffiths of Torquay – the Queen of Seaweed.
Motherhood in Devon is an exhibition which throws light on mothers' lives and experiences of motherhood, both historic and contemporary.
Our Director Emma, explains the phasing of capital works and what to expect over the coming months.
Do drop in to one of our Project Cafes which happen on the 4th Wednesday of the month in the Courtenay Room, where you can find out more and ask any questions over a cup of tea.
Devon and Exeter Institution seeks to appoint a consultant to coordinate the evaluation of the activity plan, capital works and interpretation aspects of The Next Chapter project, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, which has recently begun its Delivery Phase.
We are looking for new trustees to provide longer term sustainability for our Board and who will help us turn our strategic vision into reality over the next five years.
A food and beverage business opportunity - open call
William Elford Leach (1791-1836) was a prominent zoologist, born in the height of the Age of Enlightenment in Plymouth, Devon. From a young age, he began to collect marine specimens […]
Donated in 1977 to the Institution as a generous gift from Chawton House, this small volume of Jane Austen's juvenilia has borne witness to a fascinating history of friendship and correspondence.
January is exam season, and we would like to extend wishes of good luck to our student members, many of whom have been revising and studying here over the last […]
“My humble effort is designed to lead the youthful and cheer the weary spirit, by leading them, with a woman’s hand, to the Ferny Combes and Dells of Devon.” Beautifully […]
Press Release December 2021 – The Devon and Exeter Institution secures a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant for The Next Chapter project.
The Devon and Exeter Institution, an independent library and educational charity in the heart of Exeter, has received a £814,000 National Lottery Heritage Fund grant for the second stage of its project, following a development grant of £186,000 awarded in March 2020; a total grant of one million pounds.
We're delighted to offer some exciting new opportunities to join our team. We are seeking a Projects and Programme Officer, a Collections and Research Assistant and offering a funded PhD in partnership with the University of Exeter, as part of our Next Chapter development project.
It's been a busy week at the Institution as we continue with preparatory works for the Next Chapter project. This week we have been working with the team from Oakford Archaeology, to see what lies beneath our courtyard.
Here is the very first video blog (Vlog) of our project.
We are delighted to host partner events for Exeter Literary Festival
The theme of our series this year is Hidden Nature. We will explore some of the hidden aspects of Devon, our heritage building, library and Enlightenment collections in general, through the eyes of a diverse group of speakers.
This month, Paul Auchterlonie speaks on Devon and the Middle East.
Today’s invitation to create comes to you from the ‘Picturesque Excursions of Devonshire’ by T. H. Williams (1827) Illustrated by the author, an artist, the book is made up in […]
Join artists Naomi Hart and Emma Molony and University of Exeter academics Dr Ceri Lewis (Associate Professor in Marine Biology) and Rebecca Lovell (Research Fellow at the European Centre for Environment and Human Health) for a special online talk about art, nature and science to celebrate International Women's Day.
Display 6th August 2022 - 29th October 2022
This exhibition was inspired by a conference on the theme of Dreams, Visions, and Somnambulism in German Literature, Art, Medicine and Philosophy 1750-1835.
Trade & Exchange was launched in November 2020 and was commissioned as part of Exeter’s COVID-19 Recovery Plan Building Exeter Back Better.
Born in Mithian, St Agnes, Cornwall, John Opie (1761-1807) overcame his humble birth to become a Royal Academician and one of the foremost portraitists and landscape artists of his day. He was introduced to the London art world as a self-taught Rousseauian 'noble savage', raised in a ‘remote and secluded part of the island’, who rose to fame ‘unassisted by partial patronage’. However, little of this was true.
2019-2020 has been an extraordinary year. Like many heritage organisations, we had to close our doors in March and adapt quickly to a locked-down world. At the same time, we also received notification of our successful application to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for our exciting new project, The Next Chapter. Needless to say, there have been ups and downs but we have faced challenges in the spirit of the 19th century scientists who founded the Institution in 1813, adapting and innovating our programme and services so that we have continued to flourish and connect with our members and supporters.
Libraries Week is an annual showcase of the best that libraries have to offer, celebrating the nation's much-loved libraries and their vital role in the UK's book culture. We have been celebrating this week with a series of readings by our members and volunteers. We hope you enjoy them.
Trade cards were printed on fine-quality paper and distributed with deliveries or given to customers at trade counters. Our set of eight postcards includes a bookseller, engraver, chemist, upholsterer, draper, […]
Just in time for Christmas, these six cards feature stained-glass designs from our Exeter Diocesan Architectural Society collection. The Society was established in 1841 to report on the fabric of […]
Daniel Neal (1678-1743), a historian and nonconformist minister, published the first volume of The History of the Puritans in 1732; the final fourth volume appeared in 1738. Neal’s story starts with the Protestant Reformation and concludes with the Act of Toleration in the reign of William and Mary. The second volume includes an account of the voyage of Mayflower to the new ‘Promised Land’.
Much of Exeter’s long history has been well documented, however one area that is less well documented is the West Quarter. Whilst the famous Stepcote Hill is featured in many postcards and guidebooks, the area around it, prosperous in medieval times, was designated a slum area in the 1920s and scheduled for redevelopment.
Last September historian Dr Julia Neville, in collaboration with the DEI, invited members to join a research group to study the history of the West Quarter in the 1920s. The group has been working on the project since then, using resources from the DEI library, those at the Devon Heritage Centre and the Central Library, and websites such as .ancestry.co.uk. Of course, the group’s work has been challenged by the Covid-19 crisis, but members have continued utilising on-line resources.
Our phased reopening plans for the Institution - September 2020
The Devon and Exeter Institution is an Independent Library and Educational Charity in the heart of Exeter, founded in 1813. We welcome new members and visitors of all ages. In March 2020 we were awarded a major grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund for our development project 'The Next Chapter'.
Join us here in the Institution garden or online, for Heritage Open Days. This year's theme is 'Hidden Nature' and we invite you to view the Institution from a different perspective.
From his home in London, John Cooke Bourne (1814-1896) witnessed the construction of the London and Birmingham Railway, the first main-line railway to enter London. The London and Birmingham Railway Company was founded in 1833 and work soon began on a London terminus. Engineers George and Robert Stephenson chose a site on the edge of the city; a station with two platforms and two hotels was designed by Philip Hardwick (1792–1870) with a huge 70-foot Doric portico marking the gateway to the north. London Euston station officially opened on 20 July 1837. The following year a temporary terminus opened on Bishop’s Bridge Road in Paddington heralding the expansion of the railways to the west.
Discover brand new ways to support our conservation programme and become part of the history of the Institution
The Institution is a very special place in the heart of Exeter and we need your support now more than ever to ensure that it continues to thrive for generations to come. Watch the video to find out how you can get involved and become part of the fascinating history of the Devon and Exeter Institution.
Our phased reopening plans for the Institution - July and August 2020
Originally from Barnstaple in Devon, John Gay (1685-1732) became one of London’s most renowned dramatists. His satirical ballad opera, The Beggar’s Opera, opened at Lincoln’s Inn Fields Theatre on 29 January 1728 and ran for 62 nights. Gay’s assault on the topsy-turvy morals, double-standards and self-interests of 18th century politics and aristocratic society remains one of the few 18th century plays still performed today.
This week's Book in Isolation transports you to the Outer Library of the Institution to delve into the history of the Institution's bindings.
We are delighted to bring you our popular adult and family Saturday programme online. Join in with gardening, craft activities, workshops and experiments, all inspired by the Institution's building and collection.
Beautiful, intricate and varied, shells have adorned our clothes, our homes and our objects of art for centuries. From the end of the 17th century, natural scientists began to collect, organise, observe and draw them in earnest. George Montagu’s Testacea Britannica (1803) is one of the most important works of natural history to come out of the Age of Enlightenment – and it has a special significance for Exeter.
In his day, W. E. Norris was described as the ‘Gainsborough of English novelists’, an heir to Trollope and a writer of ‘Disraelian intensity’ … so why aren’t we reading his novels today?
Beth Howell investigates curiosity in the animals and wildlife described and depicted in 19th century books of exploration in the collections of the Devon and Exeter Institution - what animal can you draw?
From the early 19th century, Koenig & Bauer’s new steam-powered double-cylinder printing press, capable of printing over 1100 sheets an hour, disseminated information fast. The circulation of The Times newspaper increased from 5,000 to 50,000 by the middle of the century. However, not all printing was about speed – in 1822 William Savage published his guide to fine art printmaking – still a popular art form today.
Furloughed on half pay following the end of the war with France, Captain Hugh Clapperton (1788–1827) looked to augment his income with an intrepid exploration into the African interior.
What is the secret of good writing for children? Is there even such a thing as a children's book? As an adult alert to the child within, Lewis Carroll knew instinctively how to write for children and adults simultaneously.
Throughout March, April and May 2020 we were delighted to bring you our popular family learning programme and Bookworms junior members' club online.
Linked here - Join in with craft activities, workshops and experiments using materials that are easy to find at home.
Lighthouse keepers were certainly used to living in isolation; in this week's guest blog Edward Maunder tells the story of John Smeaton's Eddystone Lighthouse, situated 9 miles south of Rame Head off the Cornish coast.
If you are beginning to tire of the present lockdown you may perhaps find some solace in this little book of travels in the boudoir, or how to travel the world without leaving the house - something, it would seem, that women especially were rather good at in the early 19th century.
The third President of the United States of America is best known for drafting the Declaration of Independence that galvanised the British colonies in their fight to become a new nation. At home he immersed himself in science, engineering, architecture and book collecting – even rescuing one of the world’s greatest libraries.
Lunchtime Lecture: “By all that is sacred in our hopes for the human race, I conjure those who love happiness and truth, to give a fair trial to the vegetable system”-
Percy Bysshe Shelley, A Vindication of Natural Diet
Press release: The Devon and Exeter Institution secures National Lottery investment for its project ‘The Next Chapter’
The Devon and Exeter Institution, an independent library and educational charity in the heart of Exeter, has received initial support* and a development grant of £186,000 which will fund preparatory […]
Philip Henry Gosse's invention of the aquarium was 'instantly accepted by naturalists and amateurs alike, and became to the one a portable studio of biology, to the others a charming and fashionable toy'.
Sir John Hawkins' greatest literary achievements were thwarted by bad timing and, according to some accounts, by the 'paltry malice, and base tricks' of his mean-spirited contemporaries.
Parents all over the country are preparing for what could be many months of ‘home schooling’ – but it’s easier said than done. This little book – a two-hundred-year-old ‘domestic […]
Due to the current situation the DEI will remain closed until further notice.
In the meantime we are proud to be bringing much of our programme and events online to provide diversion, entertainment and activities while we are all shut away from the real world. Keep checking our website and social media for new content.
The first week of February is ‘Colour Our Collections’ week. This annual event, organised by the New York Academy of Medicine, invites libraries and museums all over the world to celebrate their collections in colour. This year we have chosen three recently-digitised drawings from our prints and drawings collection. Whatever you choose to colour with – whether coloured pencils, felt-tips, crayons, pastels or paint - click on the images below, print the colouring sheets, and get colouring! You can share your creations on social media by tagging us and adding the hashtag #ColorOurCollections.
Deadline 8 June 2020 -
We are tendering for a Conservation Architect.
The Devon and Exeter institution is Grade II* listed building adjacent to a Scheduled Monument which houses an independent library and dating from 1813. We have been an educational charity since 1989. We completed a major structural restoration to the roof on time and on budget, between 2015-2017 funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic England.
We are now seeking to appoint an architect to deliver the preliminary works for the development phase of another major National Heritage Lottery Funded project.
Our Book of the Month for January is H. M. Bowdler's 'Pen Tamar'; a novel in which the author seeks to address early nineteenth century attitudes towards single women. Set against a backdrop of the English Civil War, this moral tale of romance and heartbreak tells the story of Matilda Heywood and her relationship with Devonian Sir William Trelawney, in which he is taught to challenge his preconceived ideas about 'old maids'.
Our Book of the Month for December was researched and written by Tony Rhodes, a library volunteer at the Devon and Exeter Institution. Apsley Cherry-Gerrard was a member of the infamous Terra Nova expedition. His first hand account recalls the race to the South Pole that tragically turned out to be the final expedition for Robert Falcon Scott. December 2022 marks the 100 year anniversary since the book's first publication.
Deep in the Manuscripts Cupboard of the Devon and Exeter Institution library lives a small, roughly bound, handwritten book, containing recipes for the treatment of many ailments, from ‘almond milk for a fever’, to ‘a powder against bleeding of lunggs’ and ‘an oyntment against swellings’. There are even instructions to make ‘a distilled water for the plague’. This manuscript contains no clear indications of authorship, and no definite date of creation. Written in different hands, there is the suggestion of this book being passed down, sharing its medicinal wisdom through the generations.