Our Collection

What is in the Archive?
Our CatalogueVisit Us

About the items we hold

Our collection consists of historic documents, maps, images, books, journals, and periodicals, as well as a special collection of artefacts, and unpublished material. It is dynamic rather than static, and new items are added daily.

To help you access the information you need we have split the material into two streams: the Thematic and the Local.

The Thematic Collection

Brings together conventional books, items of ephemera, reference materials and digital resources to help visitors research particular themes in their study of Devon’s Buildings and landscapes.

The Local Collection

Brings together conventional books, items of ephemera, historic documents, technical drawings, reports on independant research  and images relating to specific buildings and landscapes in Devon.

Additional Resources

Image Bank

Whether we view an artist’s impression, or a photographer’s timely snap, comparing historic and modern images is a great way to identify changes that may have taken place in your village or town. We hold many thousands of pictures in our growing Image Bank, showing buildings and landscapes from across the county.

Family History

Alongside our major collections we also have a range of family history resources. These include 19th century Census Returns, Trade Directories, and Parish Registers that record baptisms, marriages and burials at local churches since 1538.

Mouseman Furniture

The Archive holds a small collection of English Oak furniture pieces that were produced by the Arts and Crafts maker, Robert “Mouseman” Thompson (1876-1955). Some of the items, display his iconic trademark of a small carved mouse running along the wood.

Our Catalogue

Almost every item in our collection has been catalogued, and the resulting electronic database will soon be available for you to search in the Research Library, as well as online here. We use the Devon Rural Archive Classification System, or DRACS, to organise the material.

Our team are currently working on the final stages of the cataloguing process and are making sure that all of our holdings are clearly signposted and easily accessible.

For now, our team are very happy to help direct you to potential resources for your research, and can access the catalogue from Reception.

Visit our Research Library

Our Research Library is a quiet space where you can browse our collection and undertake private study.

In there you will find the bulk of our open access resources; these are items that do not need to be requested and are available to view at will. When you visit us the volunteer on duty will be able to offer some guidance as to where you might find items of possible interest. To use our Research Library, you can drop in at any time during our opening hours of Wednesday to Sunday from 10:30am to 4pm.

There is no charge for using our facilities.

The rest of our collection is held in our strong room and is only available by appointment. This is because some items will require a different level of care owing to their age, fragility, rarity, and value.

 If you have not used the Archive before and are not sure where to start, we offer a free research support session. Our curator will find relevant material ahead of your visit and spend some time with you to get you started on your journey so If you would like to make an appointment, please let us know.



Stay in the loop!


Join the DRA Friends to receive the latest news from the archive as well as details of our events and exhibitions by email. Please add office@dra.uk.net to your list of contacts to prevent our messages being banished to your Spam folder.  

Where we are

Devon Rural Archive, Shilstone, Modbury, Devon, PL21 0TW

Call us: 01548 830832

Email us: nicola@shilstonedevon.co.uk