Sidmouth’s Sampson Society, for anyone with an interest in the architect and artist RW Sampson, is inviting new members.

Robert William Sampson (1866-1950) was responsible for nearly all the architectural layout of early 20th-century Sidmouth, including the Victoria Hotel and many of the town’s other most impressive buildings. He also designed the war memorial outside the Parish Church.

He was also a keen painter in watercolours and oils. He opened an art school in the town in 1895 and often exhibited at the Royal Academy. He later became a president of the Sidmouth and East Devon Sketching Club.

The Sampson Society was formed in August 2009 by Sylvia Brownlee to gather and collate information about his life and work. She had lived in Sampson-designed houses since moving to Sidmouth in 1976 and wanted to produce a publication about him for Sidmouth Museum and anyone else with an interest. The publication was sponsored by the Sid Vale Association and titled ‘Sampson’s Sidmouth’.

Some of the society’s members live in houses designed by RW Sampson but many do not, and the society is open to anyone with an interest in architecture.

Sylvia, who is now the club secretary, said: “We have Appreciation Visits to Sampson properties - a coffee morning by any other name - during which committee member Martin Mallinson, who has become our expert on all architectural matters pertaining to Sampson, will produce a fascinating story of the property and also find some unexpected facts. 

“Added to that, we have pictorial presentations, quizzes on Sidmouth architectural features, an annual garden party, Christmas drinks and an annual lunch in the Victoria Hotel to commemorate the life of RW Sampson.

“All in all, we are a vibrant, interested group of residents of Sidmouth who enjoy learning about the information still coming to the fore about RW Sampson’s enhancement of Sidmouth. 

“Not to forget his involvement with The Arts Club, which he helped to form before it became Sidmouth Musical Theatre, as a lead singer of Gilbert & Sullivan.”

For information on how to join, visit the society's website