Local History Research?

Are you interested in researching your local Devon history?

Perhaps you want to trace your Devon family ancestry or find information on historical characters or buildings.

Here are some online resources that you may find useful.
(Click on the resource name to jump to the relevant section)

The Churston & Galmpton Catalogue

We have our own catalogue of local historical maps, documents and pictures. View or download the catalogue file and if you find something listed that you would like to see, please contact us.

Old Maps of Devon

There is an amazing, interactive resource that lets you overlay old maps with a modern day 2019 map of Devon.

It’s hosted on the Bristol City Council website, but use the “Compare Devon Maps” button below to take you to the right page.

This is a really useful tool that allows you to compare the land as it was, for example in a 1904 Ordnance Survey map with 2019 map.

A screen shot of Know Your Place Devon online mapping system

How to Use the Map

  1. Click on the “Compare Devon Maps” button above.
  2. When the page loads, click on the magnifying glass in the top left hand corner
  3. Type the postcode or place name and click from the results list to go to that place on the map
  4. You should see a vertical bar which you can slide left or right to reveal more of the map as required.

On the right of the screen, there is a box with a button called “Basemaps” that allows you to choose the Main map and the Comparison map to compare. You can have hours of fun with this!

The Devon Archive Catalogue

The Devon Archive Catalogue contains details of collections held at Devon Heritage Centre (Exeter) and North Devon Record Office (Barnstaple)

It holds all types of historical archives relating to the county of Devon and the City of Exeter (excluding Plymouth.) These include maps, photographs and records of churches and chapels, of county, district and parish councils and of many families, estates, schools and other organisations.

If you find something of interest you can book a visit to the Devon Heritage Centre in Exeter or make good use of the excellent Torbay Archive Service (see below) to request that your items are brought to Torre Abbey when they next visit (approximately quarterly – see here for dates)

The Torbay Archive Service

The Torbay Archive Service offers easier access to services for people who live in Torbay. An archivist visits Torre Abbey on Thursdays, approximately quarterly, in order to:

  • Help people find out about the past, with information on how to find out about family, house and local history
  • Provide information on the archives held at the Devon Heritage Centre
  • Bring microfiche for people to study, and documents from the archive strongrooms when appropriate

More details on the Torbay Archive Service…

Links to Local History Research Websites

Many people research their family history and share the results on their own website for others to enjoy. Here is a great example.

The Gempton Family History website front page

The Gempton Family History

The history of the Gempton family by Cliff Gempton who was born in Brixham in 1950. This website is packed full of fascinating information and wonderful pictures of the Brixham area.


The Devon History Society

Website: devonhistorysociety.org.uk

The Devon History Society is a registered charity that promotes the study of all aspects of Devon’s history through:

  • lectures, meetings, conferences and visits
  • publications: newsletter and journal and the website
  • workshops to support research skills
  • affiliation for local history societies to share research and take part in DHS activities
  • opportunities to take part in DHS research projects