CREDITON Area History and Museum Society’s summer exhibition “The Great Fire of Crediton in 1743” is open at Crediton Museum (at The Old Town Hall) until October 31, on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 10am to 4pm and on Saturdays from 11am to 2pm.

The exhibition includes a variety of items and scenes relating to a detailed map of Crediton from the 18th century and portrays the way people lived.

There is also a section upstairs with a display of work by pupils from Hayward’s Primary School.

Previously there were displays by pupils from Landscore School, who wrote diary entries and newspaper reports about the fire.

Students from Queen Elizabeth’s School wrote about a highway robbery which is featured in the exhibition.

Tony Gale, project lead at Crediton Museum, told the Courier: “Everybody loves maps and not only is this map very detailed: it’s unusual in other ways, too.

“The map shows all the buildings as they would have appeared from across the street – giving us an amazing opportunity to see what the town looked like at that time.

“There are grand Georgian townhouses standing alongside rambling old cob-and-thatch buildings, market stalls straggling along the High Street and fine details like sundials and weathervanes on some of the houses.

“Several personal names appear on the map – giving us extra information about people living here at the time.

“The map was completed a few months before the Great Fire of Crediton.

“So it’s a time capsule, portraying a town largely destroyed nearly 300 years ago.”

Tony continued: “What’s more, annotations about the fire were then added to the map and it is, arguably, among the best 18th century maps of Devon.

“The map is not the only source of first-hand information about the Great Fire.

“There were newspapers in 1743, and they carried dramatic reports of the fire and news about how the community worked to get back on its feet. 

“Another novel feature of the times was fire insurance – local policies give us lots of details about the properties which were insured and the occupations of people who lived and worked in them, along with occasional glimpses into the world of poor families living in the courts lying behind the main streets.

“The exhibition pulls together information from all these sources and more, presenting a picture of life in Crediton before, during and after the fire.

“We have unearthed some fascinating and unexpected stories about people, places and events which will surprise many of you.”

The museum has also published a book “Crediton and the Great Fire of 1743” to accompany the exhibition, priced at £15 in paperback or £25 in hardback.

Copies are available at the museum or can be ordered from: [email protected] .

Schools’ Gallery ‘refreshed’ at Crediton Museum exhibition

THERE’S a new range of material on display in the Great Fire of Crediton exhibition at our local museum in the High Street. For the past six weeks or so the Schools’ Gallery has featured work from Landscore and Queen Elizabeth’s Schools; and now it’s showing work from Hayward’s.

“It’s been so good to see how pupils and students from all our local schools have shown so much interest in this exhibition,” says Project Lead Tony Gale.

“Landscore and QE both concentrated on written work, while Hayward’s have focused on artwork – so between them, we’ve got the best of both worlds.”

“There was a real buzz around the school while all the different year groups were working on this,” says Hayward’s Head Teacher Andy Smith. “We were really pleased to be able to work with the team from the museum on a project that captured the imagination of so many children.” 

Jenny Maddison of Landscore says: “It’s good to know that our display at the museum has been getting lots of positive feedback – and so much of what everyone has learned will definitely help with the ‘Great Fire’ history theme which we will be working on next year.”

For the rest of this school term, the Schools’ Gallery will be given over to work from Hayward’s. From the beginning of the school summer holidays onwards, the exhibition will be showing a selection of work from each of the three schools.

“From the outset, we wanted people across the whole community to engage with this exhibition,” says Tony Gale, “and it’s been great to see the response from our local schools. I kept asking myself what would have inspired me, when I was that age – and now we know that there are lots of young people who can get really interested in local history, just like I was.”

The Great Fire of Crediton exhibition is open each Wednesday to Friday from 10am to 4pm; and each Saturday from 11am to 2pm. Admission is free, donations are welcome. The exhibition runs to the end of October.