Born in Winchester in 1810, Peter Orlando Hutchinson was a little known Victorian antiquary who, as a  benefactor with a modest income and no need to work for a living,  spent all his adult life in Sidmouth pursuing a vast and diverse range of interests.

Today, his studies and observations of local geology and archaeology are of great cultural value. As an artist and ceaseless, devoted recorder of everything he heard and saw around him, his illustrated diaries and documents provide an immensely valuable information source for Devon landscape studies.


Peter Orlando Hutchinson (1819 -1897), who resided in Sidmouth during the mid-1800s, studied historical features of the landscape extensively, such as ancient hill forts, tumuli, burial mounds and quarrying sites. His work provides a detailed and fascinating account of the landscape at the time and his efforts to understand earlier historic and prehistoric landscapes.

His highly detailed and illustrated diaries provide the ideal resource for a community heritage project; increasing our understanding of the constantly changing landscape. This is particularly valuable at a time when many believe that there is a fixed, past landscape we should attempt to return to – when in reality the landscape has always been in flux and in a state of ‘becoming’

Supported by Heritage Lottery Funds, the ‘In the Footsteps of Peter Orlando Hutchinson’ project aimed to raise awareness of landscape change, help conserve and enhance historical features, and continue the legacy of volunteer study and involvement in landscape heritage that has grown through the National Landscape Partnership.


Hutchinson's Diaries

Peter Orlando Hutchinson’s (POH) diaries (1846-1894). Scans and transcripts allowing the diaries to be viewed online.

Hutchinson's Pictures

Hutchinson (POH) watercolours and drawings, many depicting aspects of the East Devon landscape.

Histories of Sidmouth

Hutchinson’s History of Sidmouth comprises 5 volumes, none of which were ever published. 

Heritage Trail

Follow our interactive map to learn where key monuments are located and find out more about the archaeology and history of the East Devon National Landscape landscape.

Fieldwork Booklet

Fieldwork booklet for secondary geography and arts students. Developing understanding of the landscape and field/landscape sketching and painting skills.

Final Report & Assessment

Read a full report detailing the project and outcomes. ‘In the Footsteps of Peter Orlando Hutchinson’, a community heritage project 2010 – 2013.



  • To engage local communities and volunteers, helping them understand changes in the landscape and to discover or re-discover their local heritage.
  • To increase partnership working.
  • To make archive resources more readily accessible.



  • 2010 – Project start date 
  • 2013 – Project end date 


Project Steering Group, the National Landscape team and lead volunteers –
Phil Planel and Pete Youngman, Martin Smith, Jill Cobley, Barbara Farquharson, Cressida Whitton, Nigel Hyman, Bob Symes, John Draisey, Ron Woodcock, John Rees, Jenny Moon and Mike Green and for the web site, project Cosmic.


More to Explore

Our National Landscape Projects

We lead, partner and support projects that focus on a wide range of themes, including landscape and heritage, environmental quality and climate, biodiversity, recreation and tourism.

Outdoors & Active

Whether you prefer walking, cycling, running or playing, everyone feels happier and healthier when they spend time in nature being more active.

East Devon Way

Discover the hidden gems of East Devon and explore this much loved walking route that links 40 miles of public footpaths, trails and bridleways.