Kent Kingdon (1810-1889)

Kent Kingdon was a key figure in RAMM’s formation. According to some accounts it was Kingdon who first came up with the idea for an Exeter museum. Whatever the truth of the matter, he was a significant collector and benefactor.

Kingdon was an upholsterer who was noted for his restrained taste and skill as an interior designer. Skills that were employed at his home that was decorated throughout in ebony and French grey – a contrast to the bright and gaudy colours of the day!

Kent Kingdon the collector

He was an avid collector of fine and decorative arts who gathered some notable pieces during his lifetime. After his death, and that of his sister Jane Kingdon in 1892, the collection passed to the Museum. It included prints and drawings, medallions, oriental ceramics and paintings featuring popular works by local artists William Widgery and John Gendall.

As well as donating his collection, Kingdon also left £6000 for building work at RAMM and the establishment of the Kent Kingdon Trust, which still operates today, to aid the library and museum. Its conditions reflected Kingdon’s own sense of style. Galleries were to be decorated modestly with no gilding and kept ‘in very quiet good taste’.