The Ottery Heritage Society
The Ottery Heritage Society is for anyone who's interested in thelocal history of East Devon. If that's you then you should seriously consider joining. Their aims are to promote interest in the rich heritage, local history and culture of the town and surrounding area; they are committed to the preservation and protection of features of historic and public interest.
They have fascinating guest speakers and really interesting topics at their monthly meetings, which are usually held on the third Tuesday of each month. Visitors are always welcome to the meetings, for a small charge.
Over the last couple of years, subjects as diverse as Carthorses to Computers - The story of Farming in the 20th century and Ottery St Mary Church Roof, an illustrated talk from the point of view of a carpenter. Another time the Society enjoyed an illustrated talk on the history and technology of milling.
On a more gruesome note, there was discussion of Murders in Devon, a graphic account of some of Devon's most notorious crimes. While other evenings there were Life, Death and Taxes in medieval Ottery, an illustrated talk on the everyday lives of medieval Ottregians and Slavery and Two Ottery Families, a talk on possible connections between Ottery families and the slave trade. Really, every conceivable aspect of the life and times of Ottery are covered.
One of the aims of the society is to have a museum, covering the history of Ottery from Roman times, through the development of an Anglo Saxon settlement.
For a few years they were able to use the squash courts at the Salston Manor Hotel every summer. I was lucky enough to be able to go and enjoy the extensive displays during the time that the Museum was open.
Sadly the Salston closed in 2007 So the rooms are no longer available to the Heritage Society. This is a real shame because there's such a lot of information and artifacts available but nowhere to show them. One of the Heritage Society's long term aims is to create a permanent centre in the town where everyone can enjoy these exhibits.
The Heritage Exhibition 'Museum for Ottery' ran from April until October 2007. As it's no longer possible to have a summer exhibition and at the time of writing there is nowhere suitable for a permanent Museum and Heritage Centre there are periodic Heritage Exhibitions staged at the Institute in Yonder Street. Hopefully at sometime in the future suitable premises and funding will become available to have a more permanent display.
Each October the Society celebrates the birth of Ottery St Mary's famous son, poet and philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge, with the Coleridge Anniversary Lunch.
In 2011 there is an entire weekend devoted to Coleridge from 21st to 23rd October. The Coleridge Literary Weekend is a joint project between the Heritage Society, the Coleridge Memorial Project , the Tourist Information Centre and local historians will include a reading of the Ryme of the Ancient Mariner and a celebration lunch at the Tumbling Wier Hotel. Several other Heritage Society projects are ongoing, including the 'Blue Plaque' scheme for buildings and sites of historic interest in Ottery. This will be covered in more detail on a planned new page on this site.
The Amenities Section supplies and maintains around 60 public seats in and around the town. I was amazed when I read this statistic, I know there are seats dotted about but I had no idea there were this many.
In 2002 the the much acclaimed 'Golden Jubilee Book of Ottery St Mary' was published, the first in a growing collection of publications produced by the Society. A quarterly magazine, the 'Heritage Journal' is also produced to include news on the Society's activities and articles relevant to Ottery's history.
For more information on the Heritage Society, please visit their website
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