Welcome to PERS

The Poltimore Estate Research Society (PERS) is the result of the efforts of volunteer historians and archaeologists since 2010. That year, Oliver Creighton (Archaeology) and Henry French (History) of Exeter University received a research grant to work on a joint project called ‘Community and Landscape: Transforming Access to the Heritage of the Poltimore Estate’, in association with the Poltimore House Trust. This project involved the creation of groups of volunteer researchers and work with local schools. It finished in 2012, having put on several public events, produced a vast amount of research into the history of the gardens surrounding the house, and stirred up quite a lot of interest in keeping these activities going. The result was the formation of the inelegantly named PEHAG (Poltimore Estate History & Archaeology Group) in September 2012. After a year of gauging interest, formulating research ideas, and hosting events such as the summer visit of the Devon History Society to Poltimore House in July 2013, a group of 15 volunteers decided to form a fully-fledged history society in September 2013, in the shape of PERS.

PERS became an affiliated society of the Devon History Society in 2013. PERS is intended to take forward the interest generated in Poltimore House, gardens, estate and the relationship with the village and surrounding parishes, during the House’s time as a country residence, a school and a hospital. Current projects include further research on the gardens in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, charting the expansion of the park through the nineteenth century, exploration of the lives and families of servants and estate workers in Poltimore after 1860, and (in particular) the role played by Poltimore’s inhabitants at home and abroad during World War 1. We will also be continuing archaeological investigations into intriguing features in the gardens and surrounding fields, not least the quest to find a medieval manor house.

We hope to show the fruits of our research, at public events in Poltimore, and on-line, to link up with researchers in other communities and all those with an interest in the life, and after-life of this great estate’.

PERS News – Poltimore: A Village in Transition, 1911-1921

Poltimore Estate Research Society is proud to announce the publication of their first book, ‘Poltimore: A Village in Transition, 1911-1921’.

The group set out to answer the question ‘What happened in Poltimore village when Lord Poltimore moved out at the start of the First World War?’ Over 40% of the heads of household were employed by Lord Poltimore in 1911 and most of the other adult workers were employed on the estate or by the farmers who leased their land from him.

The book tells the stories of some of the families who lived in the village, the houses they lived in and how they were affected by the war and the retrenchment at Poltimore House, even before Lord Poltimore decided to sell his East Devon estates in 1921.

Local families kindly lent photographs and PERS members investigated buildings in the village and documentary resources to produce an illustrated book which brings the village and its characters to life.

Thanks to grants from Devon county councillors and the Parish Council we’re able to sell the book at only £5 (excluding postage and packing). Copies are available via the Poltimore House website.

Julia Neville