Social History

RAMM’s social history collection tells the stories of the people who have lived and worked in Exeter since the 17th century. Our collection is very varied, and includes over 7,500 objects from domestic, industrial and social life.

Highlights of the social history collection

  • Armour and weapons from the Rougemont Castle Armoury: designed for soldiers to defend Exeter from invasion. Most of these pieces come from the two ‘great panics’ in Exeter’s history: the threat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 and the Civil War in the 1640s.
  • ‘The Hedgeland Model of Exeter in 1769’. Local builder Caleb Hedgeland built this fascinating and detailed model showing the city, as he remembered it from his childhood.
  • An 18th century fire engine and firefighting equipment
  • Tillet blocks and cloth seals associated with Exeter’s trade of woollen cloth.
  • Cog patterns from Bodley’s and Garton & King iron foundries.
Museum Assistant Ben Clapp talks about his favourite object, the Hedgeland model of Exeter.

Magic lantern slides

RAMM’s collection of glass lantern slides contains around 4,500 items and provides a fascinating insight into Edwardian life. Produced before the days of cinema these decorative and colourful slides were presented at public lectures for the education, entertainment and moral enlightenment of the audience. You can explore RAMM’s entire magic lantern slide collection on the Lucerna website, and we are regularly adding more slides from the collection to our Collections Explorer website.

The Albert Memorial Institute for education of local residents bought many of RAMM’s slides containing hand-drawn images of plants and biology. Other slides reflect the hobbies and interests of local people, and their travels around the world during the First World War and early 20th century.  Other slides are colourful children stories, biblical tales, and advertisements for food and drink.

Highlights of the lantern slide collection

  • Hand-drawn images of plants and microscopic organisms
  • Alfred Rowden’s First World War tour of duty in Mesopotamia
  • Weaver Baker’s photographic record of Exeter Cathedral in the early 20th century