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Our Services, Aims and Policies

Information for Depositors


We aim to house records of public interest from a wide range of sources, for future preservation and for use in historical research, and are always pleased to receive new deposits.

We are able to keep documents in secure and environmentally safe conditions. We can also identify, arrange and list them according to approved professional standards and, in most cases, make them available for supervised research.

Conditions of deposit

Documents can be deposited with us either as a gift or a loan.

If a gift, then ownership passes to Devon County Council.

If a loan, then ownership is retained by the depositor (copyright ownership, however, is a separate issue and not always the same as ownership of a document. For more on copyright policy).

If you have any documents which you think that we might be interested in, please contact an archivist in either the Exeter or Barnstaple office. If the documents are accepted then you do not need to make special arrangements.  Just send the documents by post, or bring them to our offices in Exeter or Barnstaple, making sure your remember to leave a contact name and address so that we can provide you with an official receipt.  If you cannot forward or deliver the records to us, we may be able to collect them from you.

There is no charge for depositing your records with us. If, however, you permanently withdraw any records which have been held on loan before a reasonable period has elapsed, we reserve the right to charge for any storage and treatment costs incurred.

Please note that the following fees apply for the temporary withdrawal of material deposited on loan.  Any material which needs to be sent by post will be sent via recorded delivery. There is a charge of £10 per file for this service. This fee is intended to cover the costs incurred. If temporary withdrawals are collected from this office, then no charge is incurred.

A copy of the terms and conditions of deposit for loans is available on request.

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Closure periods

Some types of records contain sensitive information inappropriate for wider public access, and we undertake to protect such records by maintaining accepted closure periods as required. We will only accept permanently closed records, however, under exceptional circumstances.

Limits to deposits

It is not always possible to preserve everything. There are occasions when, in our opinion, a group of documents is not of sufficient historical value to warrant permanent preservation. In such cases, we will contact the depositor to ascertain whether they want the documents to be returned or destroyed on their behalf.

No records will be destroyed without the prior permission of the owners.

Final statement

We are keen to receive records from individuals, businesses, solicitors, churches, clubs and societies, official bodies, families and estates.

If in doubt, please contact us for free professional advice.

The successful preservation of our county’s written heritage depends upon an effective partnership between the creators or owners of records and the Devon Heritage Service as their official custodian.