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Pathways to the Past - back by popular demand!

People in Somerset and Devon can discover four centuries of maps at free one-day exhibitions taking place in Exeter and Taunton, during July and August.  The exhibitions were held in Exeter and Wells in June, and were a huge success.  Due to requests that the maps be on show again, we are delighted to host the exhibitions at the Somerset Heritage Centre and the Devon Heritage Centre, to allow even more people to view and enjoy our fantastic collections.

The South West Heritage Trust is offering a unique opportunity to explore a range of fantastic maps dating from 1600 to 1975, many of which are being exhibited for the first time.  The exhibitions will include historic estate maps, garden plans, mining maps, vanished landscapes and some more unusual maps including the route to a murder!  The earliest maps in the exhibition are a map of the Mendips from c.1600 and of a former abbey near Axminster from 1616.  

Esther Hoyle is an archivist with the South West Heritage Trust.  She explains:

"Britain's earliest maps were drawn by the Romans, but English map-making did not really develop until the late 1500s.  It was not until the early 1800s, following the formation of the Ordnance Survey, that standardised series of maps became widespread.  

"The Trust holds many different maps in its collections at the Somerset Heritage Centre, Devon Heritage Centre and the North Devon Record Office.  

"We are delighted to have this opportunity to exhibit some of the highlights from our collections at these special one-day events."

The maps in the exhibition document the themes of Gardens, Vanished Landscapes, Industry and Urban Change.  

Highlights include:

- Detailed maps of Somerset and Devon from 1762 showing industries found across the county

- The famous Portbury and Portishead Docks from the early 20th century

- A plan of the smallest city in England, Wells, from 1735

- Maps of the Stogursey coast line beautifully illustrated with ships and sea monsters

- A map of the Mendips, including minues, from c.1600 - one of the earliest in the Somerset collections

- A late 17th century sketch plan of watercourses on Dartmoor leading to Bradford Pool tin mine, created for use in a court case

- A map of the north Devon coast, around Georgeham and Croyde, dating from c.1690

- A map of Crediton after the town's 'Great Fire' of 1743

- A colourful and intricate map from the 1750s of the city of Exeter and its inner suburbs

The one day exhibitions, entitled 'Pathways to the Past', will be held at Somerset Heritage Centre on Monday 31 July, and at Devon Heritage Centre on Monday 14 August.  Both events will run from 10.30 am - 3.30 pm/


Entry is free with donations for the work of the South West Heritage Trust gratefully received.  

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