Ottery’s new museum opens doors to 1,000 years of history

PUBLISHED: 06:30 13 August 2018

Robert Neal, chairman of the heritage society, with Mayor Paul Bartlett as he declares the new heritage museum open. Picture: Clarissa Place

Robert Neal, chairman of the heritage society, with Mayor Paul Bartlett as he declares the new heritage museum open. Picture: Clarissa Place

Archant

A thousand years of Ottery’s history has gone on display at the town’s new heritage museum, which opened its doors for the first time this week.

Members and trustees of Ottery Heritage Society with town councillors and the mayor outside their new heritage museum. Picture: Clarissa PlaceMembers and trustees of Ottery Heritage Society with town councillors and the mayor outside their new heritage museum. Picture: Clarissa Place

The Ottery Heritage Society officially opened its new home, the old town hall on Silver Street, to the public on Monday, for a short summer season.

The group has spent nearly two decades trying to open a museum in the town and for three years ran a facility within the former Salston Manor Hotel.

Displays currently include the history of the town’s railway, tar barrels, wartime involvement, clubs and societies, the fire of Ottery and the famous aeroplane crash.

Robert Neal, chairman of the heritage society, said: “At last we have the makings of a Heritage Museum for the town of Ottery.

Members and trustees of Ottery Heritage Society with town councillors and the mayor outside their new heritage museum. Picture: Clarissa PlaceMembers and trustees of Ottery Heritage Society with town councillors and the mayor outside their new heritage museum. Picture: Clarissa Place

“With more than a thousand years of documented history, Ottery has deserved a museum for many years.

“This latest venture should be viewed as a development project. It will be seen to grow and change, almost on a daily basis to begin with and relies on our members’ input, coupled with welcome suggestions from the townsfolk, who responded overwhelmingly in favour of the project when questioned some two years ago.

“This is an embryo museum, simply because we have more history that’s not on display than is on display.

“It’s only scratching the surface at the moment.

“Our aim is to research, document, preserve and protect the colourful history and heritage of our town, and to exhibit as much as possible for the benefit of everyone.”

The building’s first visitors have praised the museum for its ‘eclectic mix of interesting material’, which also includes items about residents growing up and working in the town.

A visitor from Singapore described his visit as ‘enriching and knowledgeable for future generations’.

Resident John Maunder discovered three of his relatives were featured in a current display, including his father Reginald - who served in Africa during World War Two.

Another visitor, Yvonne Palfrey, said: “It’s exciting; it’s nice to see things on display that I haven’t seen before.”

The museum will be run by volunteers and it is hoped that it will be open seven days a week, between 10am and 4pm.

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