Telling our stories, finding our roots: Exeter's multi-coloured history.

This one-year project will work in 3 very different Devon towns: Tiverton, a semi-industrial town near to Exeter; Okehampton, a rural market town and gateway to Dartmoor; and Bideford, a significant port in North Devon.

 The project aims to find out the stories of people from Black and Minority Ethnic groups (BAME) who live in these towns - or have lived there in the recent or ancient past. This will include stories from European or other people from abroad who have moved and settled in the towns. It also includes Black British citizens and other British citizens who have a different culture, faith or ethnicity from the main population in the towns.

Volunteers will research these stories, interviewing people in the towns  and recording their stories. They will also research earlier stories, using the Devon Archives and the internet. The project will provide training for the volunteers in the required skills: research using archives and the internet, interviewing and story-telling skills.

 In July, we appointed the project co-ordinator, Nicole Redfern, based in the DDE office in Exeter. We also appointed a Community Heritage Co-ordinator in each of the 3 towns:  Lizzie Mee, who is based in the Tiverton Museum, Laurel Miller, based in the Ockment Community Centre in Okehampton, and Rose Young-French, with a desk at the CVS in Bideford.

We are delighted to be working with community groups and museums in each town, so Tiverton Museum, The Museum of Dartmoor Life in Okehampton, and the Burton Art Gallery and Museum in Bideford.

For more information contact DDE or Nicole on

This already proving to be a very interesting project, but we are lacking someone to do the admin for the project. We’d like to have a volunteer come to DDE one day a week to carry out some admin tasks. If you are interested, do let us know. Job description can be found here.

Later we will be seeking people to type up the recordings from the interviews.  If you have skills in transcribing or would like to learn how to do that, do let us know. We will pay for travel and out of pocket expenses.

This project is funded by the Heritage Fund and other funders. Read more ...

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It's really amazing what we uncovered. Who would have thought that Exeter has such a long history of multiculturalism?
Ghee Bowman, Project Coordinator

Telling Our Stories - Finding Our Roots, and the resources it produced, can be found on the website:

This exciting project based at Exeter's Global Centre sought to find out more about people, famous or not, in Exeter's multi-coloured history. Pocahontas, Ignatius Sancho, Rabbi Lionel Blue and the Emperor Vespasian all passed through Exeter, and they all came here from a long way away. Likewise, many ordinary people from far and wide have lived here over the centuries, up to the present day.

"Telling our Stories, Finding our Roots: Exeter's multi-coloured history" was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), which brought together local people of all backgrounds, ages, ethnic groups and nationalities, to find out about the rich and varied past of Exeter.

Exeter’s multi-coloured history

Who came here? Who lived here? Where in the world did they come from?

Exeter, in south west England, is a city that people often assume has always been White Anglo-Saxon. Our team of community researchers have discovered that's only partly true.

Since its beginning in Roman times, through Saxon and Viking invaders, Medieval Jews and 'Aliens', enslaved Africans and the twentieth century Windrush Generation, Exeter has been, and continues to be multi-cultural.

Find out more...