.....is a unique little building in Devon with fine views looking out over the countryside towards the Exe estuary.
It was built in 1796 to a design conceived by the maiden cousins Jane and Mary Parminter in order to house their shell collection.
The cousins designed this unusually shaped 16 sided building originally with a thatched roof. The most important consideration for them was to ensure that they gained as much possible natural light throughout the day into the top of the building.
They busied themselves every day creating a shell gallery in the upper lantern room using their very large collection of shells, feathers, sand, seaweed, and crushed minerals.
The Parminter family had very extensive business interests - Jane was born in 1750 in Portugal where her father owned a wine export company. Independent wealth gave both of these women an unusual amount of freedom for that period in time.
They both set off together on a Grand Tour and it is considered that they may have been travelling for around four years. There was no set time or programme to a Grand Tour and four years or even longer was quite normal.
It is likely that Jane and Mary conceived the idea of their own shell gallery following a visit made to the shell grotto on the island of Isola Bella in Lago Maggiore, Italy.
Sadly, now over 300 years old, it is no longer possible to actually see their shell craftwork - it is far too fragile for many visitors to walk around the narrow gallery.
looking up to the shell gallery
However, luckily I can still remember visiting it as a child, my parents brought me here whilst holidaying in Devon. It is now only viewable from a 3D screen, but that does not negate in anyway from the pleasure of being in such a delightful little building.
The shell gallery via National Trust