Special offers at Barnstaple Heritage Centre this spring

Joseph Bulmer

Take advantage of a two-for-one offer and delve into the fascinating past of an ancient market town that has seen more than 1,000 years of history.

ESCAPE the winter gloom and its wet or chilly days with a visit to Barnstaple Heritage Centre and a fascinating glimpse into 1,000 years of history.

Throughout February and March the centre is offering a special admission rate of two for one for adults and half price for children, with plenty for all ages to discover and enjoy.

Residents and visitors alike are invited to rediscover Barnstaple’s rich past and perhaps learn something new. For example — did you know that Barnstaple was an important fortified Saxon town or “burh” more than a thousand years ago?

Or that legend has it five ships set sail in 1588 from the town quay to join Sir Francis Drake’s fleet as it prepared to battle the Spanish Armada?

Many in North Devon were perhaps unaware the town changed hands four times during the English Civil War years of 1642–1651 and was the scene of a number of skirmishes – with bullet holes still visible for those who know where to look.

From Saxon and Tudor periods through to a 16th century merchant ship’s hold, the Civil War and into the 18th century life times of Barnstaple’s famous son John Gay – author of the Beggar’s Opera – there really is something for all interests.

Along the way interact with folk from the past to find out more about their lives, through touch screens, quizzes and a variety of activities.

Youngsters in particular will enjoy dressing up as the historical characters they have just discovered, try brass rubbing and hunt for 15 shy mice hidden throughout the exhibition – how many can you find? But watch out, as soon as you leave they will hide again!

The centre’s presentation area is now linked in to the Explore North Devon archive website, packed with pictures and photographs of bygone Barnstaple to browse at leisure, as well as an extensive library of sound clips and memories.

Conclude your visit by browsing the well stocked gift shop, with gifts for all the family, from tasty treats to pictures, cards, ornaments and books, plus special offers on a range of jewellery.

Children and their parents might wish to explore Barnstaple even further – for a small charge they can pick up an activity booklet that offers a guided tour of historic Barnstaple.

Things To Do