18th September 2019
Visit these Devon museums in and around Sidmouth
Do you love to fill your holidays with museums, history and culture, always looking to learn something new and gain a true sense of what the area has in its past?
Then Devon is your perfect destination, the region is full of history - as the county is built upon its heritage and is proud of its past. In South Devon particularly, there is an abundance of museums, historical locations and unique opportunities to see what life use to be like here.
Devon museums are very special, and being based in Sidmouth, The Belmont is lucky enough to be surrounded by museums our guests can easily visit.
Here's our list of South Devon museums found within a 30 to 40 minute drive of The Belmont, depending on traffic. Will you be paying them a visit during your next stay?
We obviously start with the museum in our hometown, Sidmouth Museum. It can be found just a short walk away in the centre of town.
It is free to enter and is run by volunteers, the Sid Vale Association. Their permanent displays showcase the development of Sidmouth - from a fishing village to the thriving tourist attraction of today. They have a large collection of Regency and Victoriana items, a costume collection, an extensive lace collection, early paintings, prints and photographs of the area.
Being based on the Jurassic Coast, there's 240 million year’s worth of history to be charted, including a superb collection of rocks and fossils such as reptile footprints found in Sidmouth together with everyday items from the early period of the town’s history.
The Museum also runs weekly guided geology and town walks, plus special seasonal events. It really does have something for everyone.
Allhallows Museum, Honiton
In Honiton, a town famous for lace making, this museum displays the most comprehensive collection of Honiton Lace in the world.
The Allhallows Museum is the oldest building in town, home to three galleries displaying an insight into many aspects of 16th to early 20th century lace and local history.
Other displays include Honiton Pottery, a mid-Victorian furnished doll's house, palaeontology, children's toys, war memorabilia, coins and trade tokens. Meanwhile, there are plenty of activities to amuse the children with quiz sheets, puzzles and books available.
Plus there's an opportunity for everyone to try lace making. Their website gives more information.
Lyme Regis Museum
In the heart of the town, the Lyme Regis Museum focuses on the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. It's built on the site of a renowned fossil hunter's home and is packed with fascinating displays.
What makes this particular Devon museum unique is their guided walks. Throughout the year, guests can enjoy guided fossil walks, history walks and even rock-pooling guides to look further at marine life. Those looking to learn more about the fossils of South Devon and Dorset need to visit the Lyme Regis Museum.
There's a lot going on, making the museum a hub of activity and family events - browse their website for more details and discover everything going on.
Axminster Heritage Centre
Another key location to visit for free, Axminster Heritage Centre invites you to discover Axminster and all its stories. From the Roman Fosse Way road to being a busy marketplace town to its important brush making centre, there's a lot of history to take in here.
Axminster is also famous for quality carpet, so visitors can see displays of spinning, dying and weaving plus an original 18th-century loom and a 1769 Whitty carpet, as seen on TV.
They are open during 2018 but are having some rejuvenation work going on. It opens again fully in 2019, fully refurbished and better than ever.
A very small and quaint place, Exmouth Museum is run by volunteers and has a very small fee to enjoy its collection.
Found in what was the Council Stables, it tells the story of Exmouth and its people. Exhibits include a 1950's Room, a Victorian Kitchen, Wartime, the Beach, Children's Toys, Railways, Shipping, Antique Lace and Commemorative China.
This is a little gem of a place, perfect for combining with a full day out in Exmouth.
Fairlynch Museum and Arts Centre
Found in Budleigh Salterton in Devon, the word Fairlynch refers to the name of the Grade II historical thatched cottage in which the museum is based.
The cottage was originally built in 1811 and these days is a free to visit collection of arts, toys, costumes, lace and local history, including smugglers and Sir Walter Raleigh. The grounds here are also popular, the garden admired by many.
Fairlynch Museum and Arts Centre website has many more details on what the grand house has to offer. Whilst there, discover the rest of Budleigh Salterton, a small seaside town.
Another historical house, this one is a 17th-century building overlooking the Exe Estuary. It celebrates the story of Topsham and the Exe through displays of local history, trades, crafts and memorabilia.
Topsham Museum, for example, has its first-floor displaying period rooms, highlighting the domestic arrangements of a merchant. As well as other permanent exhibits there are also temporary displays, such as Women at Work or War Comes to Topsham.
The museum is also popular for its cream teas, served in the garden when the weather is fine.
Visit the Topsham Museum website for more details.
Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery (RAMM)
For our final museum, we're moving to the heart of nearby Exeter. The popular RAMM attraction is found in the city centre, so those who love history and art can combine a visit here with shopping and dining for a grand day out before returning to The Belmont in Sidmouth.
The Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery is full of colourful and classic exhibits and events. Combing elements of the National History Museum in London with the small heart and soul of Devon museums, RAMM offers a world-class museum containing stunning displays and galleries with fabulous exhibitions and modern amenities.
Exhibits range from the likes of Pop Art to wartime Devon photography. The displays reveal Devon and Exeter's rich history, found alongside exotic animals, birds and insects and stunning items from around the world.
RAMM is free to enter and comes with a cafe, a shop and free WIFI. With many things to do and get involved with, everyone can enjoy a day out here.