FoDA News 2012-2015

21 December 2015

The next one-day conference of the Friends of Devon's Archives will be held in North Devon, in the splendid setting of the Guildhall, Barnstaple, on Saturday 16 April 2016. Speakers include

The event will be chaired by the chairman of FoDA, Dr Ian Mortimer. Further details will be sent to members of FoDA and put on the Friends' website (on the events page) nearer the time. Non-members of the Friends are most welcome to attend. There is a modest fee to cover hire of the Guildhall, speakers' expenses, and teas and coffees (lunch will be self-catering to keep prices down).

30 November 2015

The chairman (in his capacity as website editor) has updated some of the details on this website (membership rates, committee members, contact addresses, membership form, etcetera) and standardised the links list on the left-hand side. Documents such as our constitution and acquisitions policy have been added, as has the full text of the chairman's address to the AGM in October. Also the last Newsletter is now online.

25 May 2015

At the last committee meeting, the committee resolved to appoint Dr Ian Mortimer as the acting chairman, with immediate effect, to steer the committee through to the Annual General Meeting, which will be held in the Guildhall, Exeter, on Monday 19 October. Dr Mortimer is well known as a historian; he is also a qualified archivist, having started his career at the old Devon Record Office in Castle Street, Exeter. He currently sits on the Lord Chancellor's Forum on Historical Manuscripts and Academic Research. Further information about him is available through his website.

The Friends of Devon's Archives are pleased to announce that recently they purchased a collection twenty-one deeds, including wills, marriage settlements and land transfers, relating to Bycott Farm in Halberton, Devon. These all date from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The collection has been deposited with the Devon Archives and Local Studies Service, Exeter.

25 August 2014

At the last committee meeting we received a request from the DHC representatives on the committee to consider a grant to help in purchasing various local publications. Since the DHC took over the responsibility for the county local studies collections three years ago the local book purchasing budget has been greatly reduced. It is important that a comprehensive collection of local publications is maintained which can be made available to the service users. It is hoped that once the new South West Heritage Trust is up and running later in the year additional resources will be made available for this purpose. This request was discussed and it was decided to grant £50 for the purpose. The following was subsequently posted on the DHC website and on their Facebook page by Tim Wormleighton, the Heritage Services Manager:

The Devon Heritage Service is delighted to report that we have received a generous donation of £750 from the Friends of Devonrchives to assist with the purchase of local publications. We are extremely grateful to the Friends for this gift, which will go a long way to ensuring that the Devon Heritage Centre maintains a comprehensive collection of recent, as well as older, local studies publications. This is something we have found it increasingly difficult to sustain in the face of ongoing budget restrictions, but both we and the Friends are hopeful that this situation will improve under the governance of the South West Heritage Trust, which takes over responsibility for both Devon and Somerset Heritage Services in October 2014. We have a lengthy 鳨 list' of current publications to purchase, and are always happy to receive donations or complimentary copies of works to contribute to our collections so that we can offer as wide a range of titles as possible for our users.

The wish list of books he refers to can be seen here. As you will see the list is long and the cost to purchase all would be high so please feel free to make a donation if you have a copy of a book you no longer need. Your kind donation will be acknowledged in the book.

7 May 2014

At the most recent committee meeting we agreed to fund the purchase of some Melinex packaging for DHC and which is earmarked primarily for use on the Stone photographic collection and Herbert Read plans. This should make these important collections more accessible and preserve them for future researchers.

7 May 2014

We have recently purchased for the Devon Heritage Centre an Illustrated Manuscript of historical and architectural information on the churches in the Deanery of Shirwall in the Archdeaconry of Barnstaple.

This impressive document comprises 2-7 pages on each of the following churches: Ashford, Berrynarbor, Bittadon, Braunton, Brendon, Challacombe, Charles, Combmartin, Countisbury, Georgeham, Goodleigh, Heanton, Highbray, Ilfracombe, Kentisbury, Lee Chapel, Loxhore, Lynton, Martinhoe, Marwood, Morthoe, Parracombe, Shirwell, Stoke Rivers, Trentishoe, West Buckland, West Down. Written in a small neat hand with drawings and watercolours of architectural details in the text and tipped in, some full page. There are some very competent drawings of features such as stained glass windows, recumbent monument figures, carved communion table rails, carved ceilings, columns, rubbings of brass inscriptions, reredros, fonts, floor plans, views of the exterior, coats of arms, etc.

North Devon Churches 1 North Devon Churches 2

2 April 2014

Our long standing ex chairman Dr Todd Gray was awarded an MBE in the New Years Honours List for his voluntary services to heritage in Devon. He received this well deserved honour from Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace in March.

Dr Todd Gray with his MBE

10 Janaury 2014

Temporary Chairman

At the AGM in October 2013, Todd Gray stepped down as Chairman of FODA. Nominations for this position were invited in advance of, and during, the AGM. However, no such nominations were received, and there have been no subsequent expressions of interest. At our last committee meeting Pete Best, currently FODAԲeasurer, volunteered to additionally take on the role of Acting Chairman in 2014. However, he is only able to take on this position until this yearGM, and no other current committee members are able to take on the role. We therefore appeal again for anyone interested in the position to make themselves known to the committee. Without someone to take on the position on a more permanent basis at the next AGM the future viability of FODA could be compromised.

2 October 2013

We are pleased to announce that our co-published book "Brunel's Atmospheric Railway" has proved very popular and our allocation of 700 copies from the initial print run have now all been sold. We have ordered a second print run of 300 copies and these will shortly be available.

As mentioned at the last AGM the cost of sending out Newsletters etc. is one of our highest costs and we are looking at using emails as much as possible to try to reduce this cost. Recently we have made our first attempt at a mailing to those members who have previously supplied email addresses for this purpose, the mailing has only been partially successful due to an issue at our end resulting in only some on the emails getting through, this will be resolved and another attempt made. However several of the email addresses bounced as being not recognised, so if you wish to help us to reduce costs could you please update the webmaster with your present address by email Click Here

6 June 2013

The official launch of the Friends of Devon's Archives and Broad Gauge Society's co-published book illustrated by the beautiful watercolours of Willaim Dawson will take place on 8 June 2013 in the Customer Lounge on Platform 1 of Exeter St Davids Railway Station at 9 am. The launch will be followed by a rail journey to Totnes following the route of this fanscinating railway. Paul Garnsworthy the book's editor will be saying a few words on the book, the atmospheric railway and William Dawson. Members and non-members are invited to join us.

FoDA apologises for the late annoucement of this information but this was due to factors outside our control.

Brunel's Atmospheric Railway

22 April 2013

The Devon & Cornwall Record Society are holding their annual AGM and with FoDA a Joint Conference on 11 May 2013 at Great Moor House. Subject of the Conference is New Researchers and their work on Devon and Cornwall: Postgraduate research in the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth

Friends members wishing to attend are able to buy tickets at the reduced rate of ?0 instead of ?3.

21 April 2013

The Friends of Devonrchives are co-publishing, with the Broad Gauge Society, the watercolours of William Dawson. These show both sides of the rail line from Exeter to Totnes. These 25 images, made in 1848, will be in full colour in a book of 98 pages and the size will be 385 by 177 mm. There is a scholarly introduction by Paul Garnsworthy and the volume will be published in May. The volume will then be on sale for ?0.

15 February 2013

1715 Militia Assessments and Related Documents

This is an important new addition to FoDAयcument transcripts and indexes, and thanks are due to Paul Luscombe for his work on this project. Paul's "Commentary and Context" on the project and a link to a pdf file of the transcript can be found here

Brunel's Atmospheric Railway

Featuring the Contemporary Drawings of William Dawson
edited by Paul Garnsworthy
This extraordinary book will be published later in the year and will be offered to members at a discount. Full details to follow when known.

12 December 2012

Plymouth & West Devon Record Office

The Friends of Devon's Archives have been concerned about the future of the documents held at the Plymouth & West Devon Record Office since 1998 when the National Archives condemned the building. Plymouth City Council has until 2014 to rehouse its collection or face the removal of its ancient records into care elsewhere. We have been in consultation with representatives from Plymouth City Council for several years but the deadline is fast approaching and deliberations have failed to seize upon a realistic plan. A full explanation of the long saga to solve this housing issue will be found on

In October 2012, Dr Todd Gray, FODA's chairman was asked to address Plymouth City CouncilƵture of Our Heritage conference in October 2012 at Plymouth Guildhall. The content of that address is available here