PhotoThe Best Museums In Devon: 16 That You MUST Visit
November 12, 2021   

The Best Museums In Devon: 16 That You MUST Visit

There are many museums in Devon that have proved to be popular with guests staying at the Langstone Cliff Hotel so, based on our experiences and those of our valued clientele, we have put together a guide of the best museums in our beautiful county.

Devon Has Lots Of Museums, So We’ve Selected Our Favourites

Devon has some fascinating history and heritage, which is celebrated in many of the museums throughout the county. Here are a few of our favourites within close proximity to the hotel:

Dawlish Museum

2 miles (approximately 10 minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

Located just 2 miles away from the hotel, you can walk to the Dawlish Museum in around 30 minutes, enjoying the coastal views as you stroll.

Dawlish Museum is located in Knowle House, which was built in the early-19th century but not occupied by the museum until 1969.

Piper Bill Millin’s famous bagpipes from D-Day are housed at the museum, along with an entire room that tells the story and shows the damage of the storm that devastated the town in February 2014.

The museum also features the story of Dawlish Warren and how it has grown to become one of the UK’s most popular tourist attractions.

Dawlish Museum Opening Times:

Dawlish Museum opens from May 1st-30th September each year. During those months, the opening times are as follows:

Monday & Tuesday: Closed

Wednesday-Friday: 10:30am-5:00pm

Saturday & Sunday: 2:00pm-5:00pm

(Information is correct at time of writing, though please check the Dawlish Museum website before travelling)

Teignmouth and Shaldon Museum (Torquay)

5 miles (approximately 15 minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

The Teignmouth and Shaldon Museum is located within the Teign Heritage Centre, which opened its doors in May 2011.

The original museum opened in 1978 and was housed in an 18th century building that was given to the Teignmouth Historical Society.

The museum houses collections that offer an insight into the history of Teignmouth, Shaldon and the people that have lived there through the ages.

The Shore Gallery offers a glimpse into 19th century Teignmouth, showing the holidaymakers who would visit during the summer months and the wealthy retirees who made this coastal town their home once they had stopped working.

With both Teignmouth and Shaldon having a long maritime history, the sea gallery shows the shipbuilding and fishing that has taken place here over the years.

Teignmouth and Shaldon Museum Opening Times:

Teignmouth and Shaldon Museum is open year-round, closing only during the Christmas/New Year period.

Sunday & Monday: Closed

Tuesday: 11am-3pm

Wednesday-Saturday: 11am-3:30pm

(Information is correct at time of writing, though please check the Teignmouth and Shaldon Museum website before travelling)

Royal Albert Memorial Museum (Exeter)

12 miles (approximately 30 minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

The Royal Albert Memorial Museum began life as the Albert Memorial Institution when it opened its doors in 1868 (though the official opening ceremony didn’t take place until August 1869).

Over the next two decades, further development work was carried out, adding extensions to the building in 1884, 1891, 1895 and 1899. The latter was opened by the Duke and Duchess of York, at which point the institution was granted permission to become the Royal Albert Memorial Institution.

Fast forward to today and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum boasts vast collections in multiple areas of interest. Zoology, anthropology, geology and overseas archaeology collections are all present, along with insects, exotic animals and birds.

The Royal Albert Memorial Museum provides a lot of content that visitors can listen to via their own headphones/mobile device, giving an insight into the history and foreign connections that Devon and Exeter built in years gone by.

Royal Albert Memorial Museum Opening Times:

Royal Albert Memorial Museum is open year-round, closing only during the Christmas/New Year period.

Monday: Closed

Tuesday-Sunday: 10:00am-5:00pm

(Information is correct at time of writing, though please check the Royal Albert Memorial Museum website before travelling)

Newton Abbot Town & GWR Museum (Torquay)

13 miles (approximately 30 minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

Committed to the history of Newton Abbot and the Great Western Railway, the Newton Abbot Town & GWR Museum is now situated in a nineteenth century church.

Having recently relocated, this museum is popular with children and adults alike, with multiple interactive learning displays now available for all visitors.

One of the most popular activities during a visit is the opportunity to change the railway signals and see them move as you pull the lever.

With different exhibitions taking place throughout the year, a visit to the improved Newton Abbot Town & GWR Museum is highly recommended.

Newton Abbot Town & GWR Museum Opening Times:

Newton Abbot Town & GWR Museum is open year-round, closing only during the Christmas/New Year period.

Sunday & Monday: Closed

Tuesday-Friday: 9:30am-4:30pm

Saturday: 9:30am-1:30pm

(Information is correct at time of writing, though please check the Newton Abbot Town & GWR Museum website before travelling)

Bill Douglas Cinema Museum (Exeter)

14 miles (approximately 35 minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

With artefacts from the 17th century to the present day, the museum is home to lots of optical material prior to the invention of cinema. Optical illusions, peep shows, panoramas, dioramas and magic lanterns are all present, along with film star collections and production collections from Marilyn Monroe, Charlie Chaplin and Bill Douglas himself.

In total, the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum holds in excess of 75,000 items relating to visual culture, of which more than 1,000 are on display at all times.

In addition to the displayed collections, the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum is also an academic research facility that supports a wide range of subjects studied at the University of Exeter.

Bill Douglas Cinema Museum Opening Times:

Bill Douglas Cinema Museum is open year-round, closing only during the Christmas/New Year period.

Monday-Sunday: 10:00am-5:00pm

(Information is correct at time of writing, though please check the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum website before travelling)

Bygones Victorian Museum (Torquay)

15 miles (approximately 30 minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

Bygones Victorian Museum is a family-run business, with three generations of the Cuming family still involved in the day-to-day running.

Spread out over 3 floors, a visit to Bygones includes walking down a life-size Victorian street, sitting on a 27-ton steam engine and experiencing recreated trenches and shelters from the world wars.

The Victorian street has original signs, cobblestone walkways and 15 authentic shops to explore as you immerse yourself in that era, while the steam engine has been a part of Bygones since it opened in 1987, having been purchased by the founder, Ken Cuming, a year earlier from Falmouth Docks.

The sound of the air raid sirens and sight of the uniforms, ration tins and medals give a real feeling of nostalgia when viewing the wartime memorabilia, before experiencing the 1950s shopping arcade and getting a feel for what life in post-war Britain may have been like.

Bygones Victorian Museum has much more to offer and is a favourite with ourselves and guests of our hotel.

Bygones Victorian Museum Opening Times:

Bygones Victorian Museum is open year-round, closing only during the Christmas/New Year period. The opening hours do change depending on the season.

November 1st-March 31st:

10:00am-4:00pm (last entry 3:00pm)

April 1st-June 30th:

10:00am-5:00pm (last entry 4:00pm)

July 1st-August 31st:

10:00am-6:00pm (last entry 4:30pm)

September 1st-October 31st:

10:00am-5:00pm (last entry 4:00pm)

(Information is correct at time of writing, though please check the Bygones Victorian Museum website before travelling)

Tuckers Hall Museum (Exeter)

15 miles (approximately 30 minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

Tuckers Hall was built in 1471 and it was here that Exeter’s cloth industry was regulated by The Guild of Weavers, Fullers and Shearmen.

Much of Exeter’s wealth came from the cloth industry. At its peak, Exeter was responsible for more than 30% of the United Kingdom’s cloth, as well as exporting cloth as far afield as Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands.

The ground floor of Tuckers Hall now tells the story of the cloth industry in Exeter, while the first floor offers a wonderful example of a preserved building that is almost 600 years old.

Tuckers Hall Museum Opening Times:

Opening hours at Tuckers Hall Museum are limited. It is open every Thursday and Saturday throughout the year from 10:30am-1:00pm and every Tuesday during June, July, August and September. It remains closed at all other times.

(Information is correct at time of writing, though please check the Tuckers Hall Museum website before travelling)

Torquay Museum (Torquay)

15 miles (approximately 35 minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

Founded in 1844, the Torquay Natural History Society set about finding suitable premises to display their collections. Having relocated several times, Torquay Museum moved to its present location in the 1870s.

Fast forward to today and Torquay Museum is home to Natural History, Palaeontology, World Culture and Archeology collections, as well as hosting a number of exhibitions, courses, activities and talks throughout the year.

The Natural History collection is by far the largest at Torquay Museum, though it also boasts vast numbers of Palaeontology, Ancient Egyptian and Social History artefacts.

Torquay Museum Opening Times:

Torquay Museum is open year-round, closing only on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day.

Monday-Saturday: 10:00am-4:00pm (last entry 3:15pm)

Sunday: Closed

(Information is correct at time of writing, though please check the Torquay Museum website before travelling)

Topsham Museum (Exeter)

15 miles (approximately 35 minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

Overlooking the Exe Estuary, Topsham Museum is located in a beautiful 17th century building and celebrates the maritime trade, which was an integral part of the history of Topsham.

The River Gallery displays 4 boats that were salvaged when Exeter Maritime Museum closed, while The House shows how merchants’ houses would have looked during the 17th century.

The Sail Loft shows Topsham’s history in shipbuilding and fishing, while The Underloft is home to exhibitions, the Museum Gift Shop and Tea Room.

Topsham Museum Opening Times:

Topsham Museum is open from the last week of March to the last week of October each year.

Thursday-Sunday: 2:00pm-5:00pm

Monday-Wednesday: Closed

(Information is correct at time of writing, though please check the Topsham Museum website before travelling)

Fairlynch Museum (Exmouth)

20 miles (approximately 45 minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

Housed in a thatched cottage that was built in 1810, Fairlynch Museum has occupied the coastal property since 1967.

With the property being referred to as “Fairlynch” since at least 1870, it seemed only right that the museum would adopt its name and be known as “Fairlynch Museum”.

Fairlynch Museum came to fruition when 4 local women, each with their own collections, decided to display them to a the local people. Initially, it was mainly costumes, archeology and geology artefacts, though it has now grown considerably to include art, local history and now has a dedicated “Smugglers Cellar” and a room devoted to local historic figure, Sir Walter Raleigh.

In addition to its vast collections, Fairlynch Museum also hosts several exhibitions and events throughout the year, from local history displays and war exhibits to coffee-time talks about local wildlife and world wars.

Fairlynch Museum Opening Times:

Fairlynch Museum is open year-round, closing only during the Christmas/New Year period.

Tuesday-Sunday: 11:30am-4:30pm

Monday: Closed (open on Bank Holidays from 11:30am-4:30pm)

(Information is correct at time of writing, though please check the Fairlynch Museum website before travelling)

Devon Has Some Fantastic Museums That Are A Little Bit Further From Langstone Cliff Hotel

We are lucky to have so many museums in close proximity of the hotel, but if you don’t mind travelling, there are some excellent museums a little bit further afield that also come highly recommended.

Exmouth Museum (Exmouth)

17 miles (approximately 45 minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

Located in a 19th-century building, Exmouth Museum has been telling the story of Exmouth since 1985.

From the outside, it appears small and not at all how you would expect a museum to look (if there is such a thing), but looks can be deceiving and you will be pleasantly surprised once you are inside.

You can easily spend in excess of an hour browsing the 1940s Sitting Room, Victorian Kitchen and Post Office, along with an abundance of history surrounding the railways, shipping and the effect that the World Wars had in Exmouth.

Exmouth Museum Opening Times:

Exmouth Museum is open from March-October and closes during the winter for maintenance and changing the collections for the coming season. Visiting during the winter months is still possible, but must be arranged in advance.

Monday-Thursday: 10:30am-4:30pm

Friday: Closed

Saturday: 10:30am-12:30pm

Sunday: Closed

(Information is correct at time of writing, though please check the Exmouth Museum website before travelling)

Totnes Museum (Torquay)

22 miles (approximately 50 minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

Totnes Museum is contained within an Elizabethan House which is believed to have been built c.1575. It is a Grade I listed building that gives a very authentic first impression of what to expect inside.

Inside you will find a room dedicated to Charles Babbage, who invented the Difference Engine and Analytical Engine, along with a collection of more than 10,000 artefacts that tell the historical story of Totnes.

In total, the museum has twelve galleries spread over three floors, as well as a herb garden and a delightful courtyard.

Totnes Museum Opening Times:

Totnes Museum is open from March-October, closing during the winter months for maintenance and planning.

Monday-Saturday: 10:00am-4:00pm

Sunday: Closed

(Information is correct at time of writing, though please check the Totnes Museum website before travelling)

Moretonhampstead Motor Museum (Torquay)

25 miles (approximately 50 minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

If you think that Moretonhampstead Motor Museum would only appeal to petrolheads, then you would be wrong!

It would be nigh on impossible to not marvel at the extensive collection of classic cars, motorbikes and motoring artefacts on display here.

The Moretonhampstead Motor Museum exhibits in excess of 150 vehicles, dating from pre-1920 to the 1990s along with a host of other motor-related memorabilia.

Moretonhampstead Motor Museum Opening Times:

Moretonhampstead Motor Museum is open from March-November (Sundays only during November) and is closed during December, January & February.

Tuesday-Sunday: Check up-to-date opening times on the Moretonhampstead Motor Museum website

Monday: Closed

Tiverton Museum (Exeter)

37 miles (approximately 50 minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

Tiverton Museum is dedicated to preserving the history, information and objects of Tiverton and its surrounding areas.

With everything relating to mid-Devon life, you will find collections including railways, shipping and historical transportation methods, to farming, the wool trade and other local industries.

Much of what is on display is generously donated by local people, meaning that the collections are constantly changing and you will be able to appreciate something different each time you visit.

Tiverton Museum Opening Times:

Tiverton Museum is open year-round, closing only during the Christmas/New Year period.

Wednesday-Saturday: 11:00am-4:00pm

Sunday-Tuesday: Closed

(Information is correct at time of writing, though please check the Tiverton Museum website before travelling)

Museum Of Barnstaple & North Devon (Barnstaple)

60 miles (approximately 1 hour 30 minutes minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

The building in which the Museum of Barnstaple & North Devon is situated was built in 1872 for William Thorne. Although it was (and still is) a magnificent building, William Thorne never lived in the property and it was sold 15 years later to William Rock, who opened it as a free library and museum.

A century later, North Devon District Council bought the building and the Museum of Barnstaple & North Devon was born.

Today, the museum boasts 12 permanent galleries in addition to a host of temporary collections throughout the year. Among the permanent galleries you will find areas dedicated to archeology, geology, metalwork and the local history of Barnstaple and North Devon.

Museum of Barnstaple & North Devon Opening Times:

The Museum of Barnstaple & North Devon is open year-round, closing only during the Christmas/New Year period.

Tuesday-Saturday: 10:30am-4:30pm

Sunday & Monday: Closed

(Information is correct at time of writing, though please check the Museum of Barnstaple & North Devon website before travelling)

The Burton Art Gallery & Museum (Bideford)

60 miles (approximately 1 hour 30 minutes minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

The Burton at Bideford celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2021, having opened its doors in October 1951.

The Burton at Bideford was born when local businessman Thomas Burton and local artist Hubert Coop came together to leave something to the people of Bideford when they passed. The result is a wonderful community venue which brings together art, a museum, a shop and Bideford tourist information in one place.

Today you will find extensive collections of paintings, pottery and poetry alongside artefacts, documents and treasure which represents the history of Bideford.

The Burton Art Gallery & Museum Opening Times:

The Burton Art Gallery & Museum is open year-round, closing only during the Christmas/New Year period.

Monday-Saturday: 10:00am-4:00pm

Sunday: 11:00am-4:00pm

(Information is correct at time of writing, though please check The Burton Art Gallery & Museum website before travelling)

Book Your Stay In South Devon

You’ll find our family-run hotel set within 19 acres of woodlands, right on the beautiful south coast of Devon. Thanks to our stunning location, the Langstone Cliff is the only choice when it comes to enjoying a beautiful South Devon hotel getaway.

With multiple room options, a wide range of food & drink outlets and entertainment choices for the whole family, it is easy to see why we have been the number one choice in South Devon for so long.

Overlooking the Exe Estuary, we are the only Dawlish hotel that is surrounded by luscious lawns and gardens, not forgetting the magnificent sea views that lead down to the golden sandy beaches and the Warren. Our hotel’s reputation is unrivalled and it is something the Owners (the Roger’s family) are extremely proud of. With the beach just a short walk away via a public footpath and the internationally famous nature reserve at Dawlish Warren nearby, why would you want to stay anywhere else?

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