North Devon Museums – Our local heritage

Between rugged coastpaths, golden sandy beaches and woodland walks it can sometimes seem like the only thing you can do in North Devon is appreciate the beautiful scenery, but nothing could be further from the truth. Ours is an area with a rich cultural heritage, and much of it, new and old, is preserved in our collection of wonderful museums. Whether you’re interested in the history of agriculture, the development of surfing culture, our strong naval tradition or even specialist subjects like steam trains, medicine, tool making and so many more. Of course, we couldn’t possibly describe every museum in the county in one short post, so we’ve decided to give you a brief rundown of a handful in close proximity to hopefully give you some inspiration for a cultural excursion while you’re on your holiday.

Braunton & District Museum is our first stop; converted from an old bakehouse, this local gem houses a number of exhibits that will guide you through some of the area’s significant cultural history. From military exhibits describing, among other things, the role Braunton played in troop training during the wars, to exhibits showcasing the history of local agriculture as well as some displays of notable local artists, this local museum is a real hidden gem. Best of all, it’s free to enter and enjoy.

Right next door is the Museum of British Surfing, a registered charity set up to preserve the cultural history of surfing. With the likes of Croyde, Saunton and Woolacombe beach, some of the world’s best surfing beaches, just a short trip away, this wonderful little museum is right at the heart of the subculture. With a range of board exhibits spanning the past 100 years, as well as a collection of wonderful board art, it’s a must see for anyone with even a passing interest in surfing. Admission is £2 for adults and £1.50 for concessions, you can return for free within 7 days and kids under 16 can enter for free making it an affordable family morning or afternoon out. There is a gift shop stocked with brilliant souvenirs too, the proceeds of which help ensure that our surfing heritage is protected well into the future.

For a collection of more personal stories, look no further than the Museum of Barnstaple. With a wide variety of exhibits aimed to give you an understanding of daily life in North Devon in the 20th century, the Museum of Barnstaple is a treasure trove of interesting objects all with their own story to tell. They also display a wonderful collection of historic pottery, as well as a glimpse at some pre-history to demonstrate how our ancestors in the area may have lived. Operated as part of North Devon Council, entry is free for all, and with a tea room and gift shop on site it’s the ideal base to explore Barnstaple.

The closest to us and in our opinion, the quaintest museum is in Mortehoe, just a short drive from the farm near Woolacombe. The museum is housed in a former cart linhay barn tucked just behind the main village with plenty of parking and a play area just outside the entrance.

Much of the village’s rich heritage is recorded in the gallery upstairs where there are displays covering life in this coastal setting, the days of the railway, the development of the local tourism and farming and country skills and so much more!

On the ground floor there is a shop selling books, maps and postcards as well as a wide range of locally produced arts and crafts. They also have a learning station where you can read all about the local area and see digital records. What makes this little museum slightly different is that it also runs tractor and trailer rides throughout certain times of the year, with two different trips to choose from. These all weather safaris are a perfect way for all ages to enjoy the stunning landscape and wildlife that Mortehoe has to offer.

These are just a few of the wonderful museums we have in the local area, but there are of course many more – we highly recommend having a look at for a more exhaustive list of what’s on offer. We hope that this has sparked a bit of curiosity and helped shape your holiday plans a little, North Devon has a rich and vibrant cultural history so no matter what you want to explore while you’re staying at Lower Campscott, we’re certain you’ll be able to find something that piques your interest.


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