Blue plaque approved for Sidmouth Museum

A victorian picture of Hope Cottage. Picture: Sidmouth Museum Archives.

A victorian picture of Hope Cottage. Picture: Sidmouth Museum Archives. - Credit: Archant

An application to install a blue plaque on the front of Sidmouth Museum has been approved by district planners.

The application, submitted by Sidmouth Town Council, comes as part of a wider project to see more blue plaques installed around the town on sites of historic interest.

It is believed the Church Street museum, in Hope Cottage, deserves a blue plaque because of the appearance of the house and its past residents.

Hope Cottage is a listed end-of-terrace building with three floors, a cellar and a small garden, which is now a parking area.

Its history dates back to 1812 when Sir John Kennaway bought the land - the cottage was then built in 1815. It was leased initially as a private dwelling, and was then used as a solicitors’ office and for other functions like to hold magistrates’ sessions.

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John Radford purchased the house from Sir John for £380 in 1844. It is believed in 1863 it was used as the Sidmouth branch of the then recently founded London and South Western Bank for 13 years. The metal security bars on the windows may date back to this date.

When John Radford died in 1899 the ownership was passed to his eldest daughter Constance Radford.

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Later, in 1916, Hope Cottage became vacant until it became the home of Stephen Reynolds – a well-known Sidmouth figure and writer - and the family of fisherman Bob Woolley.

Stephen later moved out but died from influenza at age 37, in 1919.

The Woolley family continued to live in Hope Cottage until 1927.

Two year’s prior, the owner Miss Radford decided to gift the building to Sidmouth Urban District Council with the requirement it should be used as ‘a free public library and reading room, or, if desired, for a museum or for any philanthropic, education or scientist purpose.

The council accepted the gift and used the cottage for meetings until 1928.

In 1936 it then became the Sidmouth branch do the Free Library and later a Devon County Library in 1946.

In 1970 the cottage was leased by the Trustees of the Sid Vale Association, which the museum belongs to.

The town council remains the owners.

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