Preserving the heritage - fascinating stories in Axminster

PUBLISHED: 07:00 31 March 2019 | UPDATED: 09:09 01 April 2019

Axminster Heritage Centre.

Axminster Heritage Centre.

Andrew Coley

For those looking for a family day out, they need look no further than what is on offer in East Devon.

Axminster Heritage Centre.Axminster Heritage Centre.

For those interested in the history of Axminster, the town’s heritage centre offers a wealth of knowledge and artefacts to examine.

Housed in Thomas Whitty House and staffed by volunteers from April until October, Axminster Heritage Centre offers visitors the chance to explore some fascinating facts about a range of historical subjects.

Thomas Whitty was the founder of the carpet-making business in Axminster more than 260 years ago, and the heritage centre is housed within his rebuilt factory building in Silver Street.

On the ground floor, The Gallery tells the story of Axminster from its origins in the Bronze and Stone Ages, through Roman times, and on to when it became a busy agricultural market town post its 1210 charter with a Cistercian monastery and a strong rural economy.

Axminster Heritage Centre.Axminster Heritage Centre.

The exhibition also features some of the different industries that have called Axminster home over the centuries.

The ground-floor also houses temporary exhibitions on subjects of local interest and there are plans for a modern interactive attraction, which is due to be in place when the centre opens for the season on April 6, 2019.

The centre’s stated vision is: “Our vision at Axminster Heritage is to delight and entertain visitors through interactive and innovative displays. We hope to exceed expectations by creating both an online and a ‘hands on’ experience that young and old can touch and interact with. In addition, we have a unique collection of original Axminster carpets artefacts and aim to tell the story, from fleece to floor, of this world famous ‘brand’ name in an enjoyable and educational way.”

There are also chances for people to volunteer, with a number of roles available that use a range of different skills, and the centre also has a meeting room for hire.

Thomas Whitty House as a cottge hospital opened in 1887.Thomas Whitty House as a cottge hospital opened in 1887.

Anyone who would like to go along to visit Axminster Heritage Centre and would like more details about what is on offer, or would like to put themselves forward as a volunteer, can visit or call 01297 639884.

To read more features from East Devon Resident, click here.

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