Harry Hems Medieval Woodwork

Factual Story

Harry Hems Medieval WoodworkBy: RAMMBack to Dartmoor Stories

Location: Various churches across Dartmoor...

  • Harry Hems Medieval Woodwork image 1Roof angel
  • Harry Hems Medieval Woodwork image 2Flower roof boss
  • Harry Hems Medieval Woodwork image 3Foliate roof boss
  • Harry Hems Medieval Woodwork image 4Screen fragment
  • Harry Hems Medieval Woodwork image 5Flower roof boss
  • Harry Hems Medieval Woodwork image 6Screen fragment

A master sculptor and woodworker, Harry Hems' collection of medieval woodwork is of national importance. Harry Hems was a man of lively character who came to work in Exeter in 1868, found a lucky horseshoe and established a thriving business in the city.

Much of Hems' daily work was to restore medieval churches. His restoration and replica work can be seen in numerous churches across Dartmoor, and throughout the country. Through this work he salvaged many pieces of medieval woodwork. He displayed these items in his workshop as inspiration for his craftsmen, as examples of decoration, style and technique.

Following his death in 1916 many of his personal belongings were sold. With the assistance of the National Art Collection Fund, RAMM purchased over 480 items from his medieval woodwork collection. The collection includes numerous roof bosses, angels and bench ends, fragments of church screens and font covers, chest panels, a misericord and even a door. Unfortunately no records survive to show where each piece was acquired from, yet it remains one of the largest and most important collections of medieval woodwork held in a museum in Britain.

For more information about Harry Hems see these websites:





Related Stories

  • Bridford in the Mesolithic Period

    Factual Story

    Bridford in the Mesolithic Period

    Between 12,000 and 6000 years ago, people had not yet discovered metals and used stone to make most of their tools and weapons.

    Read more

  • Lydford Coins

    Factual Story

    Lydford Coins

    Lydford was one of a number of Anglo Saxon coin-minting centres.

    Read more

  • Medieval Moretonhampstead

    Factual Story

    Medieval Moretonhampstead

    Medieval and Tudor farmers left behind traces of their life from the rubbish they threw away.

    Read more

  • Moretonhampstead's First Farmers

    Factual Story

    Moretonhampstead's First Farmers

    The area around Moretonhampstead has a long farming history.

    Read more

  • Dinna Clerks

    Factual Story

    Dinna Clerks

    Dinna Clerks is a deserted Dartmoor farmstead, it has been described as the Pompeii of Dartmoor.

    Read more

  • East Week Flints and Captain Greig

    Factual Story

    East Week Flints and Captain Greig

    An extraordinary collection of over 30,000 flints comes from this area.

    Read more