Founded: 2003 Governance: Independent
Trust Scope: Local history Visited: Autumn 2013
has the strange sense of being a frontier town - it reminds me a bit of
Alnwick and places in Northumberland. This is despite the fact that the
only frontier it's near is the one between Cornwall and the rest of
England; it may be something to do with the crenellations and turrets
which dominate the grey granite buildings in the town centre - many
built by the Dukes of Bedford with mining royalties. In one of these,
Court Gate, you will find tiny Tavistock Museum. Bijou though it may
be, the Museum website is a little too modest in describing it as
occupying two rooms, as it does have a little downstairs
vestibule and shop with a small film room. Tavistock is distinguished
from the run-of-the-mill West Country market town by its medieval Abbey
(mostly now gone, of course, with the exception of a wall here and
there) and its long history as a centre of mineral exploitation on the
western half of Dartmoor and the villages between there and the Tamar.
find this history reflected in the collection of the Museum, as there
are some very nice bits and pieces crammed into those two little rooms.
I learned more than I expected about the mining industry hereabouts and
the role the town played as its focus, as I wasn't aware of anything
more than the ubiquitous tin and a bit of lead being grubbed up from
the unwilling earth of West Devon. The collection has a charm, and
provides a sense of place, that many larger museums can only dream of,
if they even think of it; there is something strangely moving about work boots put on display in a case, I find.