10 Facts About Our Document & Archive Collections

1. Our Document Catalogue Contains Over 14,000 Entries.

While the catalogue may contain over 14,000 entries there are far more individual documents. There may be several pages or items covered under one entry.

2. We have even more items on loan with the North Devon Record Office

When we moved into our current home thirty years ago it was decided some of our collections should be transferred on loan to the newly created North Devon Record Office.


3. The oldest document in our on-site collection dates from 1368.

The title deed covers a property called Nethercott in Winsford, Somerset and was drawn up between William de Poteham, Margaret his wife and Thomas de Arthecot.

4. The Harding Collection was the first major collection donated to us

Lt. Col. Harding was a Victorian antiquarian who inherited the Upcott estate in Pilton. The collection contains a huge amount of information and research about various Devon families and parishes. It also includes notes from Dr. Oliver who wrote the Devon Monastican.


5. The Largest Collection (after the North Devon Journal Archive) is Our Own!

From the early days of the Barnstaple Literary and Scientific Institute to the relatively more recent history of the North Devon Athenaeum the BL&SI Collection covers it all and it is a collection which is still growing!

6. One of our most significant collections is the William Richard Lethaby Collection

We hold a large collection of William Richard Lethaby’s notes and drawings. Barnstaple born, Lethaby was a leading light in the Arts & Crafts movement and his influences are still seen today.


7. There are around 300 Archaeological Aerial Images in the Collection.

We hold a collection of images of archaeological features of North Devon taken by a crew member of the Air Rescue Helicopter stationed at Chivenor and donated by Mr Haggerty. These can be searched either on our main Document Catalogue or separately using our archaeological catalogue and come complete with thumbnail images.

8. We have a large collection of Graveyard plans along with the transcriptions of the Memorial Inscriptions taken from the gravestones.

During the 1980s there was manpower services commission project to record all the inscriptions on the gravestones within the various parish churches. We have a large collection of the transcriptions and the graveyard plans which go with them as well as indexes to them. A few years ago two of our volunteers digitised the transcript cards and made them searchable on disk. The memorial cards, grave yard plan and indexes can be invaluable to anyone searching for a grave.

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9. You Can Search Items on Our Catalogue By Year

A useful little trick when searching for documents is to search by year. For example there are around 123 entries in our catalogue which contain references for the year 1888.

10. We Also Have Objects Amongst the Archive Collections

These include the Dornat’s Soda Syphon, framed works of art some of which are displayed in the public area and the ceramic plate made to celebrate our 100th Anniversary.

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