South West Heritage Trust was founded in 2014 as an independent charity for Somerset, Devon and the South West. We want to celebrate and protect our rich heritage, helping everyone to enjoy it now and in the future. We bring together services previously provided by Somerset and Devon County Councils, who remain our main funders.
Operating across six main sites, we deliver a wide range of heritage experiences for people of all ages. We work with many local and strategic partners, including Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
We run the widely-praised Museum of Somerset in Taunton, Somerset Rural Life Museum in Glastonbury and the Brick and Tile Museum in Bridgwater. Together they tell the remarkable story of Somerset and the South West. We care for over 3 million museum objects ranging from outstanding geology and archaeology to textiles and fine art.
Archives and Local Studies
We hold the major written evidence for the history of Somerset and Devon. Our Archive and Local Studies Services have centres in Taunton, Exeter and Barnstaple where we care for 10 million archives dating from the 8th century to the present day. More than 350,000 printed reference works about Somerset and Devon are also held in the Local Studies collections. Together they are essential resources for anyone wanting to begin a journey through the history of the South West.
Historic Environment and Estates
Our Historic Environment and Estates Service supports local authorities, partners and the public by offering planning-related advice and information on Somerset’s archaeology and built heritage. The service is also responsible for over 400 acres of historic landscapes including Cothelstone Hill in the Quantock Hills and Deer Leap and Blackmoor Reserve in the Mendip Hills.
We provide learning opportunities for people of all ages, as well as formal workshops for Key Stages 1 and 2. A Loans for Learning Service makes authentic heritage objects available for use in the classroom. We also work in partnership with secondary schools and further and higher education institutions.