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Find out about Heritage project developments below with our news snippets - remember to check back regularly for the latest updates and details of upcoming events!
Exhibition Opening Times 2010 - click here   Can you help... - click here   Honorary President - click here   Minster Church - two new bells - click here
  The exhibition will be open to the public from May to September 2010
    Exhibition Opening Times 2010 - click here  read more
  ...track down the most famous Axminster carpet of them all?
    Axminster Heritage Centre Plans - click here  read more
  The Earl of Devon becomes Honorary President of Axminster Heritage     Honorary President - click here  read more   A pair of new bells were
commissioned and
named after Whitty &
Dutfield    Minster Church - two new bells - click here  read more
Newly refurbished single offices - TO LET News: September 2013  Newly refurbished single offices...

Available soon within Thomas Whitty House Silver Street, Axminster. Newly refurbished, single offices (16m² 29m²) TO LET.

Available late September a selection of offices from 170 per month including heating, electricity and Wifi. Suitable for Start-up and small business looking for a prestigious town centre address.

Thomas Whitty House will also house a modern, superbly equipped meeting room available to hire for board meetings and presentations.

For more information and to arrange a viewing please contact Morgan York on 01297 33375.

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Axminster Heritage Centre News: June 2013  Axminster Heritage Centre

The successful acquisition of funding has seen the establishment of a Heritage Centre in Axminster move a step closer. Thomas Whitty House in the town centre was bought by Axminster Heritage Ltd in May last year and will eventually become home to an interactive visitor attraction depicting the history of Axminster whilst also incorporating the Tourist Information Centre and the current museum.

In the meantime, monies obtained from Making It Local, a locally managed grants scheme, in the Blackdown Hills and East Devon AONB areas (incorporating funding from the EU, Defra and Leader), together with contributions from the Axe Valley Festival and the Architectural Heritage Fund, whilst not sufficient to complete the project at this stage, will enable plans to be put in place to support the maintenance of the building in the short term. The Trustees are determined that the building should be used for the good of the town and have agreed to convert part of the building into small offices for letting and a Community Room. With increased unemployment in the town the offices will provide a good starting point at a reasonable cost for those looking to set up their own business whilst the Community Room will be an attractive venue for local businesses and societies to hire.

Work will begin on the development shortly and the facilities should be available from early autumn. Anyone interested in taking up office space or setting up a hiring arrangement should contact John Church on 01297 32417 or jchurchgammons4@btinternet.com.

The use of Thomas Whitty House in this way will not only ensure the property is able to be maintained for the future but that it is also put to use for the benefit of the town. The Trustees would like to express their thanks to the benefactors who have pledged monetary support and to the many local people who have supported the project in the past and continue to do so.

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The signing News: July 2012  Good News - We are there
Axminster Heritage Ltd has been working over the last six years to gather funds to purchase the old Grade 2 listed carpet manufactory in the centre of Axminster.

The aim is to turn the building where Thomas Whitty weaved the first Axminster carpets in the 18th century into a heritage centre incorporating the present town museum and the tourist information centre which, it is hoped, will attract many more visitors to the town.

Pictured above: Axminster Heritage Trustees' chairman John Church signs the contract for the purchase of the former Thomas Whitty carpet factory, watched by fellow trustees Duncan Colvin, Andrew Moulding, Laurence Hitchcock, Julian Shaw and Roger Gillard.

Trustees' chairman John Church said: "We have now purchased the building and we are starting the development with the generous financial assistance of Devon County Council, Making it Local (a locally managed grant scheme in the Blackdown Hills and East Devon AONB incorporating funding from the EU, Defra and Leader, (Axminster Carpets, The Sustainable Development Fund, The Manifold Trust ,The Eyre Trust, Axe Vale Festival, Axminster Power Tools, Axminster Care Service, The Norman Trust and several other local donors.

"The centre will form a unique visitor attraction with a time line of the town from Roman times to the present reflecting the importance of agriculture and in particular the production of wool which will lead on to the spinning, weaving and dyeing of the raw material before it was made into carpets from the middle of the 18th century to the present day.

"The story will be told using videos recorded personal memories and displays of locally made products. Enjoyment, inspiration and education are the messages that we want to pass on.

"We wish to attract family groups, schools and overseas visitors as well as those from the locality.

"Outreach activities with schools and colleges together with temporary displays will be included in our development of this exciting project which will be opening in Spring 2013.

"We would welcome anyone who would be interested in helping this challenging development which has been led by a small group. In particular we need further help with funding if we are to fully develop the building for the use of all the community."

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News: April 2010  Exhibition Opening Times 2010
The exhibition in Thomas Whitty House - located in Silver Street, Axminster - will be open from Thurday 27th May to Thursday 30th September 2010.

    Click here  click here for full details and opening times

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News: April 2010  Temporary Town Museum exhibits
The Town Museum has been closed for over a year due to extensive building works. For 2010 there will be temporary Town Museum exhibits in Thomas Whitty House together with a display of paintings and prints with a farming and Axminster theme.

One of the principal artists will be Kate Lynch with paintings and drawings from her new book - SHEEP - From Lamb to Loom depicting the seasonal life of shepherds in the West Country. WELL WORTH A VISIT!

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News: 15/1/07  Announcement: Honorary President of Axminster Heritage
We are delighted and honoured to announce that the Earl of Devon has agreed to become Honorary President of Axminster Heritage. Shortly after the appointment, Earl and Countess Devon visited Axminster Carpets and were given a tour of the factory hosted by Simon and Josh Dutfield.

Click to enlarge

The photograph shows Sir Neville Marriner, Patron, the Earl of Devon, Countess Devon, Lady Marriner, Laurence Hitchcock, Lady Polwarth examining the beauty of the end product with Josh Dutfield who led the guided tour.

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News: 16/10/06  Tracking down possibly the most famous Axminster carpet of all!
We are trying to track down possibly THE MOST FAMOUS AXMINSTER CARPET OF ALL; in 1822 the famous Whitty factory produced what must have been one of the most remarkable carpets ever woven on a hand loom. It measured 74 feet x 52 feet, so both its size and weight to man handle at that time must have been incredible. We believe it was made for the Sultan of Turkey and was certainly layed in the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul; it depicted a blazing sun, the moon and a constellation of stars. For more information about the carpet,    Click here to read the full carpet article  click here to read our full article!

If anyone has any information or clues as to the whereabouts or even demise of this wonderful masterpiece could they please contact Fred Wells either by e-mail on    Fred Wells - click here to send email  fred@wellscarpetbroker.co.uk or telephone 0044 (0)1297 33771.

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News: 11/08/06  Dissertation
Lady Susan Stern produced a 95 page dissertation for her MA Decorative Arts and Historic Interiors titled 'Craftsman, Innovator, Entrepreneur: Thomas Whitty and the English Carpet' which examines the role of Thomas Whitty of Axminster in the development of the English carpet in the second half of the Eighteenth Century.

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News: 4/05/06  A list of seamless hand knotted Axminster carpets is being compiled
Brenda Rose, the leading authority on early Axminster carpets is compiling an up-to-date list of all seamless hand knotted Axminster carpets made between 1755 and 1835.

Brenda may be contacted directly on 01743 233722 and would be very pleased to hear from anyone with knowledge of such carpets and their location whether they are privately owned or in the public domain.

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latest news
Order your copy today!

News: 22/03/06  The Sounds of Carpet Making
A CD compiled by Brian Vaughton depicting sounds and reminiscences of carpet making in the past is now available for just £7 (including delivery).

Please contact Brian directly on 01297 552171 for more information or to order your copy!

An audio documentary to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the making of the first Axminster carpet.
Track listing -

  Introduction, and history of carpets
2   Thomas Whitty was born in Honiton in 1716. Later he worked for his father in Axminster as a mercer. In London he saw some imported bales of Turkey carpet, and thought that he could make a loom to produce similar wares.
3   In 1755 he wove the first Axminster Carpet, and the Minster bells were rung. Carpets of distinction were displayed in the Congregational Church. In 1789 George III and Queen Charlotte came to Axminster to visit the carpet factory.
4   Examples of original Thomas Whitty carpet.
5   Thomas Whitty – “a remarkable man, to conceive carpets of flowers.” Thomas Whitty dies in 1792. Eventually, the business goes bankrupt in 1837. No carpets were then made in Axminster for 100 years.
6   Memories of old Axminster – “a little market town”.
7   How Harry Dutfield came to Axminster, to restart the carpet industry. 1937 – building starts on the present carpet factory, on a green field site. Staff are taken on, and the first small looms make carpet. The first girl weaver.
8   1939 – 45 war breaks out. Carpet making ceases. A workshop produces various parts for the war effort. American Army camp in Axminster – “lovely dance – wonderful times”.
9   The ‘Spotting Tent’ had no lights in it. Fun with the girls! Self-build bungalow for men returning from war service.
10   The designing of Axminster carpets.
11   Harry Dutfield – the man, and his character. Harry Dutfield gets married and has a son, Simon. The factory celebrates 50 years of carpet production.
12   Simon Dutfield takes over as MD – a career choice between farming or carpet making.
13   1960 – Harry Dutfield starts up a mill in New Zealand. The Drysdale breed of sheep is created. In 1976 some Drysdales are imported into the UK. The original plan was to use their wool for direct use in the making of Axminster carpets. Drysdales have to be sheared twice a year.
14   Buckfast Spinning Company. The mill handles the finest wool fleeces, and they are blended, dyed and spun into perfect carpet yarn. “Wool is nearly a living thing, without being too over-dramatic!”
15   Over the past 40 years the actual method of carpet making has changed very little, but looms are larger and faster. Comparisons with Thomas Whitty, when he was making hand-knotted carpets.
16   What is the future for Axminster Carpets? Axminster people should be proud of what Thomas Whitty did. There’s always going to be a need for Axminsters – “we make the best carpet!”
17   Credits

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News: 22/03/06  Minster Church - two new bells
Two new bells for The Minster Church of St. Mary were specially commissioned as part of The Weavers' Tales celebrations in 2005 to commemorate the tremendous impact the two great weavers - Thomas Whitty and Harry Dutfield - have had on the growth and development of Axminster. The two new bells named the "Whitty" and "Dutfield" bells were hung in the Minster Church of St. Mary in February 2006 at the conclusion of major restoration works to the Tower of The Minster and it is planned for them to be rung for the first time at Eastertime.

Minster Church - two new bells    click here to view the Minster Bells gallery  click here to view photos

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click here to view the Minster Bells gallery

News: 22/03/06  Clarence House Carpet Presentation
To commemorate 250 years of the first carpet being woven in the East Devon town of Axminster, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall accepted a replica of an original Axminster carpet on behalf of TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall.

In keeping with tradition as King George III and Queen Charlotte had received an original Axminster carpet it was the wish of the people of Axminster in agreement with Axminster Carpets Ltd that a replica carpet should be given to the nation and Clarence House was proposed as a very worthy location for it to be seen in its full glory.

As a result on Thursday 27th October 2005 this generous gift was presented by representatives from the town led by Simon Dutfield, the current Chairman and Managing Director of Axminster Carpets Limited. It is hoped that the Axminster carpet will be kept on display at Clarence House where guests and visitors to the Prince of Wales' London residence will be able to admire in full, the exquisiteness of the carpet

Our photographer captured the essence of the day    click here to view the Clarence House gallery  click here to view our photo gallery

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click here to view the Clarence House gallery
Pictured (L-R):
Josh Dutfield
(grandson of Harry Dutfield)

HRH the Dutchess of Cornwall

Nerys Dutfield
(wife of Simon Dutfield)

Simon Dutfield
(son of Harry Dutfield)

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