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Gallery 20 will be closed for an event on Thursday 24th May from 1pm to 2:45pm for an Event

Decorative Arts

RAMM’s decorative arts collection has something to suit many tastes and interests, from precious silver to intricate watch movements. The largest collections include Exeter silver, ceramics, glassware and clocks and watches.

Discover the decorative arts collection on Collections Explorer

Clocks and watches

photo of clock mechanism from the decorative arts collection

Clock mechanism

The alt text for this image is the same as the title. In most cases, that means that the alt attribute has been automatically provided from the image file name.The fascinating horology collection includes clocks, watches and workshop tools. Most of the watch collection was bequeathed by C.R. Venn in 1928 and is one of the most important outside London. Clockmaking was not highly organised in Devon and some local makers acted also as wholesale dealers and retailers, offering materials, parts and finished clocks made elsewhere. In rural areas some combined their horological activities with other trades such as ironmongery, gunsmithing and even taxidermy. Records suggest that at the beginning of the 18th century there were only ten or so clockmakers active in Exeter. Even so, the area produced some notable makers such as Ambrose Hawkins (d.1705) and Jacob Lovelace (d.1755) of Exeter, Abell Cottey of Crediton (d.1711) and William Stumbells of Totnes (d.1769).


Silver wares have certainly been made in Exeter since the 12th century and probably since Roman times. However a town mark did not appear until the 1570s and the Museum’s collection of Exeter and West Country silver is mostly dateable to between the late 16th and 19th centuries.

Silver and the church in 16th century Exeter

Silver chocolate pot from the decorative arts collection

Silver chocolate pot

Up to and including the 16th century, West Country silversmiths relied heavily upon the church for business. Two notable Exeter goldsmiths of the 16th century were John Jones and Richard Hilliard. One of the most productive goldsmiths of his age, John Jones (d.1583-84) was Bailiff in 1567 and Churchwarden at St. Petrock’s in 1570. More than a hundred of his communion cups have survived. The father of Nicolas Hilliard, the famous miniaturist, Richard Hilliard also produced church plate of outstanding quality such as the communion cup made for St. Sidwell’s in c.1572.

Silver in Exeter’s ‘golden age’

By the end of the 17th century Exeter was entering a ‘golden age’ of trade and commerce when a new class of wealthy patrons demanded a wide variety of domestic silverware. Much of the wealth resulted from the important West Country trade in wool and cloth. In 1700 Exeter, Chester, Bristol, Norwich and York established their own assay offices, and in Exeter the assaying of plate began in 1701 and continued until 1883. John Elston (d.1732) was Exeter’s most successful goldsmith of the early 18th century. Elston, who became Mayor in 1727 also helped to establish the Assay Office in 1701.

19th century silver and the Great Exhibition

By the beginning of the 19th century the decline of Exeter’s economy had reduced demand for silverware. Competition from the industrial firms of Birmingham, Sheffield and London also forced many West Country goldsmiths out of business. Henry Ellis (d.1871) was one of the few Exeter goldsmiths to thrive during this period. In 1814 he opened his first shop in the High Street. A watchmaker by trade, Ellis retailed goods made locally and in Birmingham and London. In 1847 his eldest son, Henry Samuel, registered the firm’s design for ‘Patent Safety Chain Brooches’, some of which were made from silver mined at Comb Martin on Exmoor. After the purchase of five brooches by Queen Victoria, Ellis & Son were appointed silversmiths in ordinary to the Queen in 1848 and exhibited at the Great Exhibition in 1851.


Photo of a glass vaseThe alt text for this image is the same as the title. In most cases, that means that the alt attribute has been automatically provided from the image file name.For more than 3000 years glass has been used in the production of a vast range of objects both decorative and functional. Although in Exeter and Devon glass production has been limited, the Museum’s collections are wide ranging and the most significant historical periods of glassmaking are well represented – from ancient Rome through to the 20th century. A collection of some two hundred English 18th century drinking glasses was bequeathed by Henry Hamilton Clark in 1928

Outstanding glass objects

Individual articles of special note include: the 17th century Exeter Flute Glass, engraved with a portrait of Charles II; a pair of beakers associated with the 19th century prophetess, Joanna Southcott and an outstanding Victorian reproduction of the Portland Vase, engraved by Zach.

Discover the glass collection on Collections Explorer


The Museum’s ceramics collections reflect the history of Devon pottery in both the north and south of the county.

Ceramics from North Devon

In North Devon, pottery has been made in the Barnstaple and Bideford area since at least the 13th century. Here the industry thrived because large quantities of red clay were available locally and the nearby estuaries of the rivers Taw and Torridge enabled a profitable trade by sea. By the 17th century North Devon wares were exported to Wales, Ireland, Northern Europe and the New World. Home markets also flourished as communities demanded a wide range of domestic wares.

photo of a harvest jug 1709The alt text for this image is the same as the title. In most cases, that means that the alt attribute has been automatically provided from the image file name.North Devon harvest jugs

Many of the North Devon harvest jugs in museum collections were made as decorative, commemorative objects but a far greater number of plain, functional wares have not survived. These were used for transportation of beer and other drinks to thirsty agricultural workers out in the fields. North Devon harvest jugs, dating from the mid 17th century onwards, are notable for elaborate sgraffito decoration which includes ships, unicorns, birds, flowers, and hunting and harvesting scenes. Many of these jugs were made as gifts or to commemorate events such as marriages, christenings and successful harvests. For Sgraffito (after the Italian “to scratch”) sharp tools were used to scratch or carve away the outer coating of pale slip clay to reveal the red body beneath.

Ceramics from South Devon

The Torquay and South Devon pottery industry was launched in 1869 when a deposit of fine red clay was discovered at Watcombe. Further deposits were soon located and several potteries were established during the closing years of the 19th century. The expansion of the industry was helped by the new railways which brought more visitors along with reliable supplies of coal. During the 1870s and 80s a wide variety of terracotta (unglazed red) wares were made. Decorative wares, which included vases, figures and busts were commonly based upon Greek, Etruscan, Roman or Egyptian originals. In the 1890s and early 1900s as holidaymakers arrived in increasing numbers, mottowares were introduced. These were decorated in coloured slips with Sgraffito motto inscriptions and sold locally and throughout the country. Despite falling demand several South Devon potteries continued production well into the 20th century but this once thriving industry is now virtually extinct.

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Terms & Conditions

RAMM Terms and Conditions

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RAMM encourages links to its websites from other websites. Links should not imply endorsement of any third party products or services, any affiliation where none is agreed with third parties, or in any way seek to mislead website visitors.Links from RAMM websites to other websites are not an endorsement or sponsorship of those website’s content.

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Social Media

As a museum of the world the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery (RAMM) wants to engage with a global public. Our social media presence is focused on helping people find out more about, discuss and engage with the museum’s collection, public programme and research. It is intended to encourage cross-cultural understanding, storytelling and inclusive, lively debate. The views expressed by our fans and followers are their own and may not represent the views of the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Exeter City Council,  employees, or affiliates.We love hearing from you and, to ensure that everyone has a positive experience, please don’t post any hateful, defamatory, or offensive comments, photos or videos. Anything seen as offensive to others will be removed or blocked.Spamming, inappropriate posting of private information, repeated posts and off-topic comments and posts may be removed or blocked.Our core office hours are between 10.00 and 17.00 GMT Monday to Friday, excluding UK national holidays. We aim to respond to all enquiries as quickly as possible, but please note that some enquiries can take longer to resolve. There is a lot of helpful information relating to the collections, exhibitions and general visiting information on the museum’s website. If you can’t find what you are looking for, and haven’t heard back from us, use the contact page.  Unfortunately, we are only able to respond to enquiries made in English. If you would like to pass on feedback or make a complaint about your visit to the museum, the best way to do this is to use the contact pageRAMM's social media channels are linked to in the page footer

Ticket Sales

In buying ticket(s) from the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery (RAMM) you understand and agree that:
  • Once purchased, tickets cannot be refunded or exchanged except in the event of the event’s cancellation.  However if an event is fully booked, and there is a waiting list, we will try to resell your tickets.
  • Tickets purchased over the phone are available to be collected from the Garden Entrance Reception
  • Events and activities may on rare occasions be subject to change without notice, although we will always make our best efforts to inform people of any change.
  • Customers are advised to check their purchase upon receipt as mistakes cannot always be rectified.
  • Every effort will be made to admit latecomers as soon as a suitable break occurs, but admission is not guaranteed and is at the discretion of the Duty Manager
  • By purchasing, you agree that the tickets are for the personal use of you and your party only, and will not be resold or transferred.  Any resale or attempt to resell the tickets at a price higher than purchased will result in your tickets being cancelled without prior notification.
  • In the event of a cancellation by the organiser or by RAMM (i.e. a cancellation due to circumstances beyond RAMM’s control), RAMM will only refund the face value of the ticket.  RAMM will use every reasonable effort to contact purchasers either by phone or email (using the details provided at the time of purchase) and advise them to return the tickets.  Please note, however, it is the customer’s responsibility to check whether the event is going ahead at the scheduled date and time and RAMM cannot guarantee that they will inform the customer of any changes to the event date and time.
  • The right to admission to an event is reserved by RAMM, who may take health and safety, environmental and security concerns into account at their reasonable discretion.
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  • We accept all major credit cards and debit cards except American Express.  When payment is take from your card the transaction on your card statement will say: Museums Exeter EX4 GBR.
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  • During your visit you must retain your ticket safely for production on demand by our representatives.
  • The following definitions will apply to ticket sales from the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery:
    • Child 16 and under: A person aged from 0 years old to 16 years old (inclusive)
    • Young person aged 17-19: person aged from 17 years old to 19 years old (inclusive)
    • Adult: a person aged from 20-59 years old (inclusive)
    • Adult senior: a person aged 60 years or more
    • Unemployed person: person in receipt of benefits with appropriate documentation
    • Disabled person: a person is disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if they have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on their ability to do normal daily activities
    • Disabled person’s assistant: a person accompanying a disabled person
    • Student: an adult who shows valid photographic student ID
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  • Online bookings will only remain held for 10 minutes without payment
  • Once your online booking has been confirmed an order confirmation will be sent to the email address you specified
  • On arrival at the event, the following will be required in order to validate an eticket purchased though the RAMM website:
    • Appropriate proof of entitlement to any discounted ticket rate (such as NUS card or benefit documents) for each person to be admitted with the ticket
    • A legible ticket or purchase confirmation
  • Any bar operating as part of a function may be closed by the duty manager at any time if any person using the bar shall behave in an unruly, disorderly or unseemly manner or it, in the exercise of his absolute discretion, he is of the opinion that such unruly, disorderly or unseemly behaviour may occur there.


  • The Royal Albert Memorial Museum is suitable for children
  • All children under the age of 16 should be accompanied at all times by an adult over the age of 18
  • Parents with young children are welcome in the Royal Albert Memorial Museum
  • Some temporary exhibitions may contain content not suitable for children.  These will be clearly advertised and signposted.

Venue Hire Terms Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery (RAMM)

Conditions of Hire1 (a) The council reserves the right to refuse any application for the use of the venue or any part thereof without stating its reason for such refusal.(b) Should the hirer cancel the booking within 28 days of the booking then 50% of the hire fee shall be forfeited.(c) The Council reserves the right to cancel bookings at any time by not less than 24 hours previous notice in writing to the Hirer, and the Hirer shall not be entitled to any compensation in consequence thereof or in connection therewith other than the refunding of appropriate hiring fees agreed.(d) The Council reserves the right to cancel at any time any booking of the said premises should the venue be closed in consequence of any public calamity, Royal demise, epidemic, fire, act of God, war (or its consequences), or is not available for the purpose of the hiring in consequence of the withdrawal or suspension of any license, or by reason of any work required to be done by the Licensing or other Authority, to be any reason of any combination or any strike or lock-out of any workman interfering with the efficient working of the premises, or from any cause whatsoever not within the control of, or not occasioned by default of, the council.(e) The Council’s decision upon the above matters shall be final and conclusive, and in such circumstances the Hirer shall not be entitled to any compensation in consequence thereof, but any charge for hire previously paid shall be refunded.(f) The Council reserves the right to terminate any hiring in the event of the hire committing a breach or failure to observe or perform any of the regulations or conditions.(g) The Hirer shall not without the previous consent in writing of the venue management, use the venue or any part thereof for any purposed or purposes other than those specified in the letter of hire confirmation without prior agreement of the venue manager(h) The Hirer shall not without the consent in writing of the venue management, sub-let the venue or any part thereof.(i) These conditions and regulations for the use of the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and any part thereof may be amended by the Council at any time, without notice and, if so amended, shall apply to all hirings taking place thereafter regardless of the date of such hirings.(j) The term ‘Hirer’ in these Conditions shall be taken to mean the person, persons, or body incorporate making application to hire the venue and any part thereof.(k) The term ‘Venue’ in these Conditions shall be taken to mean those parts of the venue booked as noted on the letter of hire confirmation.2 (a) The Hirer shall be deemed to have notice of the Conditions attached to such licences and shall observe and perform such Conditions insofar as they affect the hiring.(b) The maximum capacity of the venue is 500 persons however a smaller maximum may be enforced depending on the particular event and set-up required. You should check this with the venue management before finalising your plans for an event.(c) Any bar operating as part of a function may be closed by the duty manager at any time if any person using the bar shall behave in an unruly, disorderly or unseemly manner or it, in the exercise of his absolute discretion, he is of the opinion that such unruly, disorderly or unseemly behaviour may occur there.(d) the Hirer shall comply with the Conditions endorsed on the Premises Licence, and shall not do or permit any act which may imperil the Licence held by the Council or be a nuisance or annoyance to any person and shall not commit or permit any breach of the statutory provision, or regulation for the time being in force relating to the licensed premises.3 (a) The Council shall not be liable for any accident or injury sustained by the Hirer or any person present in the venue or any part thereof arising from the negligence or default of the Hirer and his servants or agents. The Hirer shall indemnify the Council against all costs, claims an demands in respect of any such accident or injury as aforesaid. A copy of the hirer’s public liability insurance certificate should be made available to the venue management on request. Such public liability should be in force to a limit of £5,000,000.(b) Where requested, the Hirer must provide a copy of a risk assessment for the event at least 7 days prior to the event being staged.(c) The venue shall be in the care and custody of the Hirer and the Council accepts no responsibility for any loss or damage sustained in respect of articles, wearing apparel or other property brought into or left in the venue or any party thereof by or on behalf of the Hirer or any other person.(d) The Hirer will be held responsible and accept full responsibility for any damage done to the venue or any part thereof, furniture, utensils or other property of the Council during the period of or otherwise arising out of the hire of the venue or any part thereof. All internal or external decorations shall be subject to the approval of the management. These should not be fixed to the fabric of the building or internal walls and should be removed to the satisfaction of the venue management.(e) No entertainment shall be held or given which will involve any increased risk of fire unless previously agreed by the venue management.(f) The Hirer agrees not to fix decorations or any other material to the walls, floors, stage, furniture or any other part of the premises.(g) Any liability or expenditure incurred by the Council on behalf of and at the request of the Hirer shall be discharged by the Hirer and the Council will not accept any responsibility in connection therewith.(h) Any caterers engaged to provide food or other refreshments as part of a function shall be taken from RAMM’s list of approved caterers.4 (a) All seats and tables will be arranged with sufficient gangways in all respects to afford means of rapid exit and the Hirer shall keep such gangways, together with all passages and exits free from obstruction.(b) All doors giving egress from the venue or any part thereof shall be kept unfastened and unobstructed and immediately available for exit during the whole of such time as the venue or any part thereof is being used by the Hirer.(c) All enquiries regarding the facilities available, layout, times of entry etc should be made to the venue management.(d) The Hirer should not use, or permit to be used, any electrical equipment in the venue without the prior consent of the venue management. The Hirer must ensure that a competent person is in attendance during the operation of any additional special effects, stage lighting, additional venue lighting, audio visual equipment or any electrical equipment.(e) All arrangements in connection with the hiring of the premises or any part thereof shall be to the approval of the venue management and the Hirer shall comply with all reasonable requests made to him at any time in respect thereof.(f) Naked flames, including gas ovens and candles, shall not be used on the premises. Red wine, orange juice and other staining or sticky drinks are not to be provided or drunk on the premises without the former consent of the venue management.(g) Balloons cannot be used to decorate rooms or galleries without the express permission of the management due to the risk of them setting off the intruder alarm systems.5 (a) The removal from the venue of all goods and/or equipment belonging to the Hirer, or brought into the venue in connection with the purpose, for which the venue was hired, shall be the responsibility of the Hirer. In the event of failure to discharge the foregoing responsibility within 14 days of an event, the Council may dispose of the goods and /or equipment as it thinks fit without being liable to the Hirer in respect thereof. The Hirer shall be liable to pay the Council’s costs of so doing save to the extent they are recouped by the Council from any sale of the goods and/or equipment.(b) If the Hirer shall continue his/her occupation of the venue or any part thereof after the designated period of hire for which he/she engaged the same, he/she shall pay such additional hire fees as may be deemed appropriate by the venue management. The Hirer shall also, in addition, be responsible for any loss or damage occasioned by the Council for exceeding the designated times. The designated times being those booked by the Hirer and stated in the letter of confirmation.6 Sufficient staff shall be provided by the Hirer to supervise properly the function in the venue or any part thereof as the venue management shall, in their absolute discretion determine.7 The Council’s officers and servants are not permitted, under any circumstances, to accept gratuities of any kind.8 (a) The Hirer shall not use the venue or any part thereof for the performance in public of any dramatic or musical work or for the delivery in public of any lectures in which copyright subsists without the consent of the owner of the said copyright. The Hirer shall indemnify the Council against all sums of money, which the Council may have to pay by reason of any infringement of copyright occurring during the whole of such time as the venue or any part thereof is being used by the Hirer.(b) The Hirer shall comply with the provisions of the Children and Young Persons Act.9 (a) The hirer shall not be entitled to grant sound, television broadcasting or filming rights without the prior written consent of the venue management.10 (a) Smoking is not allowed in any part of the venue.11(a) In accordance with RAMM's responsibility under the Data Protect Act 1998 the information you provide will be held in an Exeter City Council database for the purpose of fulfilling your venue hire arrangements.  It will not be used for any other purpose unless you opt in to receiving communications from RAMM.12 (a) a 50% non-refundable deposit is required to be paid upon booking and the remaining 50% one month before the event.