10 May 2021
Emma Dunn - Why Exeter?
Buildings in Cathedral Green all have their own very unique identity, and none more so than the Devon and Exeter Institution. An independent library and educational charity, situated in a beautiful heritage building with significant historic collections and a unique ambiance – this is truly one of Exeter’s hidden gems.
Emma says that when she moved to Exeter from London six years ago, it was for a lifestyle change – she recognised that the city had the cultural and employment opportunities that she and her family were looking for.
Her childhood in Bath, not a million miles away from Exeter, meant that she had some knowledge of the south west, and she remembers one particularly wet school trip to the cathedral as a child! How interesting that she would end up working right next door to it years later!
But it wasn’t until she moved here as an adult that she became more familiar with the city, and its resources.
She says: “I was surprised to find that many of the city’s heritage assets were not as widely known, celebrated, or used as they might be. I think this has changed over the time I have been here and there are now more opportunities for sharing our city’s heritage, which after all, belongs to everyone.
“The UNESCO City of Literature award provides a helpful point of focus, as does the Exeter Heritage Partnership, Exeter Culture, and the city’s Build Exeter Back Better cultural recovery plan.”
So, what is it that still appeals to Emma and her family six years on? After all, their previous life in London must sometimes seem like a million miles from Devon.
“I appreciate the scale and the location of the city and the increasing sense of dynamism, community, and environmental sustainability. We enjoy taking advantage of the outdoor activities on offer, such as cycling or paddle boarding on the estuary and taking in the varied cultural opportunities, from world class exhibitions to pop-up street performance.
“We also appreciate the plethora of independent shops and restaurants which seem to be springing up.”
And whilst the pandemic has hindered so many businesses and individuals in Exeter, Emma says that it has actually helped her to get to know others in the city through virtual communication:
“Strangely, the pandemic has offered the opportunity to connect virtually with colleagues from across the city, in a way which was difficult before. Hopefully, these networks are now a permanent fixture.”
The Devon and Exeter Institution is an independent library and educational charity, situated in a beautiful heritage building with significant historic collections and a unique ambiance. It offers a friendly and professional range of library and member services and a programme of activities and events for people of all ages and abilities.
Photo - Rhodri Cooper