Steeped in a rich tapestry of history and heritage, the seaside haven of Exmouth beckons visitors with its stories past and architectural splendour. From Roman foundations to Georgian elegance, Exmouth’s journey through time has shaped its identity and made it a modern-day treasure trove of historical significance.
In this blog post, we invite you to embark on an exploration of Exmouth’s unique history and heritage. Unveil the hidden gems that lie within its charming streets and picturesque landscapes with our picks of the best historical spots to visit:
Exmouth Museum stands as a captivating portal to the past, offering visitors a glimpse into the rich history and heritage of this coastal town. Located in the heart of Exmouth, the museum showcases a diverse collection of artifacts, exhibits, and stories that bring the town’s past to life.
Housed in an old Victorian building, the museum itself is a historical gem, reflecting the architectural elegance of its era. As you step through its doors, you are transported on a journey through time, spanning centuries of Exmouth’s evolution.
Inside, you’ll find a treasure trove of exhibits that delve into various aspects of the town’s history. From its origins as a Roman port to its flourishing Victorian resort era, the museum offers an immersive experience for history enthusiasts of all ages. Exhibits include a period Sitting Room, a Victorian Kitchen, Wartime, the Beach, Children’s Toys, Railways, Shipping, Antique Lace, the Post Office, Schools, World War II in Exmouth, Cigarette Cards and Commemorative China.
The museum also pays homage to Exmouth’s cultural and social history, with displays showcasing local traditions, industries, and the lives of its inhabitants throughout the years. From interactive exhibits to engaging displays, visitors can really engage with the past in a meaningful way here.
Whether you’re fascinated by archaeology, interested in local folklore, or simply curious about the town’s past, Exmouth Museum offers a captivating experience. Its knowledgeable staff and enthusiastic volunteers are always ready to share their expertise, adding depth and context to the exhibits.
Opening hours 10:00 – 16:00 Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday 10:00-13:00. CLOSED Fridays and Sundays.
Find out more about Exmouth Museum here.
A la Ronde is a fascinatingly unique 16-sided house that was once home to two fiercely independent cousins, Mary and Jane Parminter, who went on a tour around Europe. Inspired by their travels, they built A la Ronde as a rural retreat near fashionable Exmouth and filled it with their many mementos and souvenirs.
Now owned by the National Trust, the building was once described by writer Lucinda Lambton as having ‘a magical strangeness that one might dream of only as a child’. From walls lovingly decorated with hundreds of shells and feathers to quirky diamond-shaped windows, every nook and cranny is crammed with curiosities collected by the two women over the years.
Outside, there’s a sense of harmony around the orchard, hay meadow and colourful borders, and views over the Exe Estuary.
Open from Wednesday 5 April 2023 to Sunday 29 October 2023, Wednesday – Sunday 10.30am to 3.30pm; last admission 2.30pm.
Find out more about A La Ronde here.
The idyllic setting of this historic working watermill and the stunning surrounding countryside attracts visitors year-round from all over the world.
This working watermill, dating back over 1,000 years, is a testament to the region’s rich industrial heritage.
Visitors can witness the ancient mill machinery in action, grinding flour and producing unique artisan products. Surrounding the mill, picturesque gardens provide a tranquil setting for a leisurely stroll, while a café and bakery tempt taste buds with delicious treats. Otterton Mill is a true gem, offering an immersive and enjoyable experience for all who visit.
Entry to the mill is free, although donations are welcome to help the mill preserve this ancient practice for current and future generations.
Open Monday – Sunday. Restaurant and Farm Shop, 9.30am-5pm. Gallery, Mill and Craft Centre, 10am-5pm.
Find out more about Otterton Mill here.
World of Country Life’s fascinating historical exhibitions offer a snapshot of rural life from times gone by – perfect for a leisurely day out.
Step back in time, by taking a literal trip down Memory Lane (World of Country Life’s Victorian Street) where you can pop into the dress shop, explore the game keeper’s cottage, test your metal at the ironmongers or even have a chat in the pub. For a special treat, pick up the receiver in the vintage phone box and listen!
The farming exhibition, housing a vast array of agricultural technology ranging from the Victorian period right up to the present day, is an experience not to be missed. Packed with extraordinary farm and agricultural machinery – some of which you can even see in action.
Featuring over a century of history in motion, the attraction’s ‘Hall of Transport’ is another must-see for history buffs. One of the largest vintage vehicle collections in the South West, visitors can catch a glimpse of the Charabanc used in ITV’s Downton Abbey, the Daimler from ITV’s Mr. Selfridge and the Bull-nose Cowley used in a recent Agatha Christie episode of TV series A Great British Car Journey!
The World of Country Life Park is open from 10am to 5pm daily, from Friday 10th March to Sunday 29th October.
Find out more here.
Exmouth is understandably proud of its position at the gateway to the Jurassic Coast. It’s blessed to be located on this unspoilt stretch of coastline – with its unique fossil-rich rocks bringing visitors from all around the globe.
Renowned for its breathtaking beauty and rich geological history, the Jurassic Coast spans approximately 96 miles and is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. What makes this coastline truly remarkable is its exceptional display of rock formations and fossils that date back to the Jurassic period, offering a captivating window into the Earth’s ancient past. Visitors to the Jurassic Coast can explore dramatic cliffs, picturesque coves, and secluded beaches, each revealing a fascinating story of millions of years of geological evolution.
Beyond its geological significance, the Jurassic Coast is also a haven for nature enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers alike. The coastal path meandering along the cliffs provides spectacular views of the sea and surrounding landscapes, attracting hikers and walkers from all over the world. The area is also home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including rare species of birds, butterflies, and wildflowers. Whether you’re interested in exploring the geological wonders, enjoying the tranquil beaches, or simply taking in the awe-inspiring scenery, the Jurassic Coast offers a truly immersive and unforgettable experience that blends natural beauty, scientific discovery, and outdoor exploration.
What’s the best way to explore Exmouth, old and new? On a walking tour, of course!
Fascinating stories from past and present abound with a unique walking tour from Claire at Exmouth Tours. Together, you’ll delve into millions of years of history (185 million years, in fact), discover why Lady Nelson is buried in Exmouth and find out what the town’s link to Papua New Guinea is.
As well as plenty of heroic tales from the RNLI, information on what British seaside tourism looked like in the Georgian age and why there are palm trees in Devon, Claire will also detail local favourite restaurants, offer tips for swimming and water sports and recommend other top things to do in the town.
If you’re visiting Exmouth for a few days, jumping on an Exmouth Tour is a fantastic activity to do as soon as you arrive, to help you get an understanding of the town and plan the rest of your stay!
Walking tours run over the weekends (usually Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday but check the website for the most up-to-date schedule) and can accommodate up to 15 people. Private tours can be arranged (please get in contact directly to discuss).
Find out more about Exmouth Tours here.
Local Accommodation with Historical Links!
As well as a wonderful array of historical attractions and tours, Exmouth is also home to an abundance of places to stay with unique links to the past.
Whether you choose to rest your head in a converted farmhouse or thatched cottage with Classic Cottages, an Edwardian era pied-à-terre with TLC Bed and Breakfast, an 1896 Arts and Crafts-styled Beach House or Exmouth’s oldest hotel, you’re guaranteed to get an extra slice of history with some of the fantastic local accommodation on offer.
For a real taste of old-world opulence, visitors to the area might want to look at the recently renovated Lympstone Manor. Originally constructed in the 18th Century as a Georgian mansion, the Manor has served as a private residence, a school, and a hotel in its time. Transformed by renowned chef Michael Caines, it has now become a luxurious country house hotel and restaurant, blending history with culinary excellence.
Find out more about Accommodation in Exmouth here.
And there you have it, a whirlwind journey through the captivating history and heritage of Exmouth! From Roman roots to Georgian elegance, maritime triumphs to natural wonders, this coastal town has an incredible story to tell.
So, next time you find yourself strolling along the sun-kissed seafront or exploring the charming streets, remember that every corner holds a piece of history waiting to be discovered. Immerse yourself in the tales of the past, appreciate the architectural splendour, and let the rich heritage of Exmouth enchant you. So, grab your sunscreen, put on your explorer’s hat, and get ready to embark on your own adventure through the fascinating tapestry of Exmouth’s history and heritage!