Visit to Devon 2018
Monday 15th October 41 people set off by coach to explore the history of Devon. First stop was a 416 year old Elizabethan renaissance house, Montacute, built by Edward Phelips, an ambitious member of Elizabeth 1's parliament.
On loan from the National Portrait Gallery were displays of portraits by famous artists such as Holbein, combined with paintings by “unknown artists” who had been permitted to copy the masters. The gardens were impressive with avenues of carefully shaped trees and cloud hedges, including two “wibbly wobbly” hedges.
Tuesday we visited Exeter, a city dating back to Roman times, once famous for its lace and cloth trades, Tudor buildings and medieval 1203 bridge but it is now modern and developed. However there is an impressive Cathedral covered in golden stone, that boasts the longest vaulted roof in the world and a 4,000 pipe organ. Our party split it two, half visited the Cathedral, the other the underground passages.
These underground passages were built in the 14th and 15th centuries and completed in 1776 to bring a fresh water supply to the city. After donning hard hats, we explored the narrow, damp passages and could imagine the hard working conditions of the tunnel workers.
A visit on Wednesday to Tiverton Museum proved very informative about Devon’s previous way of life and its association with farming and industry, with displays of ploughs, cider and lace making equipment and details of the once flourishing wool and textile industries. The 1940-50 display of gas masks, an Anderton shelter – even Meccano sets, brought back memories to our group. Next followed a leisurely cruise down the Grand Western Canal on a traditionally painted horse drawn barge.
On the final day the highlight was a 20 mile journey on the immaculately restored and maintained West Somerset Railway travelling from Bishop Lydeard, winding through the picturesque Quantock Hills along the Exmoor coast to Minehead, with eight stations on the way.
Sue Young October 2018