Our Patron – Charles Courtenay, Earl of Devon

We are delighted and honoured that Charles Courtenay, 19th Earl of Devon, has agreed to serve as Patron of Topsham Museum.

Charles lives at Powderham, an estate and castle on the opposite shore of the Exe Estuary that has belonged to his family since 1325. Charles runs Powderham as an environmental heritage enterprise, sustainably managing the ancient land and buildings for social benefit.

Charles is an English barrister and a California attorney, having lived and practised law between 2003 and 2014 in Los Angeles.

Thereafter, Charles succeeded his father to the ancient Earldom of Devon, took over Powderham, moved his law practice to Exeter’s Michelmores LLP, and took a seat in the House of Lords as a cross-bench hereditary peer.

In the Lords his focus is on rural, energy, environmental, heritage and technology matters and, in his own words, he serves as “a passionate champion of Devon.”

Locally Charles is a board member of Liveable Exeter, promoting a sustainable city; he is a commissioner on the Devon Housing Commission, investigating local housing need; he is patron of Devon Gardens Trust and Devon Historic Buildings Trust; and he is also chairman of the Courtenay Society, a family history society based at Powderham.

In August 2016 Charles took part in the first of the modern-era ’Charter Day’ celebrations in Topsham, arriving by boat from Powderham to receive a copy of the charter granted to Hugh Courtenay, his predecessor, in 1300 by King Edward I.

In November 2022 Charles gave a spirited Topsham Museum lecture on ‘1,000 Years of the Estuary at the Cutting Edge’ in front of a packed audience at the town’s Matthews Hall.