4th November 2019
Our first Tiverton Town Walk and Talk took place today. A lovely group of YR 6 pupils from Heathcoat Primary School joined us in a quest to find out more about the Heathcoat Family, and in particular John Heathcoat, who had moved to Tiverton just over 200 years ago in 1816. We wanted to trace his influence on the town of Tiverton.
Led by Holly Jarrett, education and outreach officer at Tiverton museum of Mid Devon Life, we started at the museum and took an interesting route round Tiverton crossing the bridge over the river Exe with a clear view Heathcoats factory and watching the water flow furiously through the old leat. We walked down John Street, into Heathcoat Square, St Peter Street, and though St Peter’s Church yard. We saw Amory House and the house where John Heathcoat lived and ended up at Paul’s Church where the Heathcoat- Amory Vault rests.
A we stood reading the writing on the Heathcoat-Amory vault, we learnt of the tragic loss of two of his children (John Francis at 9 months old in 1817 and Sarah Elizabeth, at 2 days old in 1819) Even with plentiful wealth, Holly reminded us, there was nothing that could be done to help them. Medicine was not so well advanced in those days and it was quite common for families to have six or eight children and to lose two or more in their early childhood. John Heathcoat’s remaining daughters were Eloise (who never married and cared for him in his old age), Anne (who died at 26 years old) and Caroline (who was also involved in building houses to improve the prosperity of Victorian Tiverton.
Back at the museum we were treated to an experience of life in a Victorian classroom and shown some of the things that went in on the Victorian kitchen. These sessions were led by museum volunteers, Sandy and Maureen. After lunch there was time for a look round the wonderful museum with artifacts dating back to the stone age and iron age and to spend time with some of the fantastic agricultural machinery from years ago, to study the lace collections and to find out more about the Heathcoat Amory Family in a section of the museum dedicated to their influence on Tiverton.
All in all a great day!
Rae Hoole – Daisi project manager for ‘200 years of Tiverton’