Exeter and the Great Exhibition of 1851: Heritage Open Days 2022

Devon & Exeter Institution, 7 Cathedral Cl, Exeter, EX1 1EZ

Tel: 01392 274727

Exeter and the Great Exhibition of 1851

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Visitors to the Institution will be able to peruse our display, exploring links between Exeter and the Great Exhibition of 1851. The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations opened in Hyde Park, London, on 1 May 1851. It was spearheaded by Prince Albert and members of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (later the Royal Society of Arts), including Sir Henry Cole. The Crystal Palace - an incredible cast iron and glass structure, measuring 1848 feet long and 454 feet wide – was constructed in just nine months. The Great Exhibition was to be a 'wonder of the world' – a celebration of international industrial design and technology with exhibits from all corners of the earth. But, principally, it was to be a grandstand for Britain and for British manufacturing, including a number of exhibitors from Exeter and the surrounding area.

The Devon and Exeter Institution has a wealth of material relating to the Great Exhibition. Local newspapers offer information about the region's short-listed exhibitors, including: Charlotte E. Treadwin (27 Cathedral Yard), articles of Honiton point lace, and William Clifford, a model of the West Front of the Cathedral made of 'the pith of the common rush'. Charles Brutton was the owner of a 'most extraordinary and magnificent clock' designed and constructed by Jacob Lovelace – a 'wonderful production of ingenuity, perseverance, and mechanical skill'.

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