Teign Valley History Centre

Preserving our common cultural and historical heritage

Teign Valley

About The Teign Valley History Centre.

A Teign Valley History Group was founded in 2010. It acquired a number of archives of important documents and some artefacts. It decided to build a place for permanent exhibition and a secure storage area.

In 2017 the Teign Valley Museum and Archive Trust was established to house and care for the archive. It is registered with the Charity Commission.We use the name Teign Valley History Centre for our current project as it better describes our objectives.

Although it is still our hope to find a suitable site for and to build a History Centre, in the last two years we have come to believe that creating an online accessible archive of local documents and records is an exciting 21st century way of making our history known to the widest possible audience and we have focused on achieving this project.

As a result, this website was launched, giving access to the archive in the summer of 2021.

About The Digital Archive.

This is the place to find film, photographs, newspaper articles, posters, programmes, letters, deeds and much, much more that relates to the history of this beautiful Valley.

From its earliest days as a religious centre, through the times of the Crusades, the Civil War and on into the Industrial Revolution, the Teign Valley has played its part in the history of the United Kingdom. People have lived here for thousands of years and each epoch has left its mark. From early flint heads and stone circles, through the churches, the fine buildings and the mines, everything leaves its story.

So come on in and explore. Find material that relates to your village, your interests or your family.

If you have any material that you think would be of interest then please register as a Community Contributor to add it to this collection so that future generations can learn more about the place they live. It’s not always the big things that make history fascinating, it’s often the little bits and pieces that give us the information about how ordinary people went about their lives – how they made a living, how they celebrated, how they thought and how they talked.

And if you enjoy your time here then please think about making a donation. This archive needs funds to keep going!

This is only the start for the Teign Valley History Centre. We still want to create a physical Museum for people to come and visit. We have a host of excellent ideas for exhibitions that we feel would be of widespread interest. We aim to be the centre for research into the history of the valley and already have the backing of our local schools. We will be looking to involve local children of all ages into our future work.

Please contact us here if you have any comments about this website or about our work.

Why we must preserve our heritage

We are ever reminded of the loss of our heritage. The stations of the railway which once travelled our valley are now converted to private dwellings, the cuttings filled in, the track largely removed and the railbed mostly disappeared. The small mines which created fortune for a few and ruination for others are no more and the large quarries are silent, although there is still some quarrying of Dartmoor granite and blue elvan. Working farms have often become substantial homes for wealthy residents who have no connection to the land.

Our young and even the middle-aged can have no experience of life as it used to be and we are eager to inform others of the history of where we live.

History and culture explain why our housing and environment are what they are and helps us to understand our traditions and how they have come about.

We are inextricably attached to what has gone before. Knowledge of the past helps create a sense of community and instils civic pride. We are pleased to have strong support from all the schools in the area to help preserve this knowledge. If we don’t, it will be lost forever.

The Teign Valley villages have a strong tradition of historical research with several published local historians who have generously donated source material to the archive. A number of bronze age and mediaeval artefacts have been discovered by residents who, in the absence of anywhere local to display and preserve them, have donated items to museums and similar institutions further afield with the result that these are seldom if ever on display and therefore lost to the local community.

The Trust has close connections with several other groups and associations as noted on our links page.

Current Projects

We already possess a substantial number of historical records and artefacts which we are currently digitising so that they can be accessed from this website and easily and freely available to everyone interested in local history.

We have assurances of further collections being made available when we are ready for them. We have engaged the services of an archivist to carry out the actual cataloguing and digitising and all other work by the Trust is voluntary.

Our physical collection of historic items is currently stored in several sites. As these are mainly private homes, they are not widely available which limits the opportunities for research. Over time we intend to raise funds to build a museum, a History Centre, to house this collection, mount exhibitions and to provide wider educational activities.

The Chairman of the Trust, Graham Thompson, has written two very successful books on our local history called 'Teign Valley Tales' and 'A Devon Village — Life in Victorian Christow'.

Our Trustees

Graham Thompson, Chair

A retired GP, has been studying the history of the Teign Valley for 10 years. He is also chairman of the Teign Valley History Group and co-chair of the East Dartmoor History Association, which helps budding historians understand research methods into local & social history. He was recently awarded the Advanced Diploma in Local History from Oxford.

Jan Deane

Jan Deane has lived and farmed just outside Christow in the Teign Valley for almost 40 years where she and her husband raised their two children and produced organic vegetables and beef commercially. In a parallel career, she represented the organic movement internationally working with government and EU bodies and since retirement has been able to indulge her long-held interest in local and social history.

Tony Cook

Tony Cook is a retired journalist, broadcaster and social entrepreneur. He returned to Devon in 2010 after a working life in the Midlands and London. He reflected his passion for history in some of his work, notably the award winning documentary Secret History: Bloody Sunday for Channel 4 as well as the Secret Lives films on Billy Butlin and Marie Stopes. He has always believed in the importance of understanding the history of one's surroundings and loves to discover more about the Teign Valley.

Tony Griffin

Tony Griffin came to Dunsford in the Teign Valley 40 years ago. Now a retired solicitor who loves the landscape and rich sense of place that is quickly felt by those who live here or even visit our beautiful country with its ancient buildings walls and fields, woods and moors; its villages and rural settlements, he immediately wanted to know more about it all. Who lived here? How did they live? What did they eat? What made their lives special? “I’m still just starting to find out”.

Kerry Hawkins

Kerry Hawkins is Treasurer. After graduating he qualified as a chartered accountant in London. He came to Dunsford 14 years ago after retiring as Treasurer of University College London. Both his and his wife’s families lived in Devon in the 19th century – his in West Dartmoor and his wife’s in Drewsteignton where one was a magistrate and another the vicar. He is very interested in the local history of the area.

Nick Kirkland

After a 40 year career in Information Technology culminating in running a worldwide consultancy, Nick was also a non-Executive Director of Forester Life and Chairman of The Children’s Mutual. Nick sits on the Dunsford Village Hall Committee, and is Secretary of the Teign Valley Tennis Club. He moved to the Teign Valley in 2016 and loves walking around finding out the history of the area. As well as supporting the Trust in creating a publicly accessible database of historic documents from the Valley, Nick also writes and maintains websites for local clubs and societies.

Others involved with the Digital Archive

Tristan Deane

Tristan Deane spent most of his childhood in the Teign Valley growing up on an organic farm near Christow. After graduating with a BA Humanities from the University of Greenwich and a spell in Nottingham, he spent five years teaching English in the Basque Country but then returned to his roots in the Teign Valley. He is currently the archivist of the TV History Centre digital archive which complements his interest in local history.

Our Formal Charitable Goals

1) To establish and maintain a museum for the benefit of the public so as to enable them to view historical documents and objects relating to the Teign Valley;

2) To encourage historical research and presentation;

3) To advance education by organizing exhibitions and other educational events and displays to examine aspects of local history;

4) To establish, collect and maintain an archive of documents and artefacts concerning the history of the Teign Valley in order to provide the general public with opportunities for research and to encourage education into local history;

5) To promote interest and active research into local history generally and particularly encouraging participation in such activity by the schools in the Teign Valley.

(c) Teign Valley Museum and Archive Trust, 2022