Copeland, G. W.

G. W. Copeland in 1967.


Published in DA Transactions, 1968.

GUSTAVE WILFRED COPELAND, well known as an antiquary in the Westcountry, died on November 21st, 1967 at the age of 74. He had been the Honorary Secretary of the Association from 1957 to September 1966.

Mr. Copeland was born at Penkhull, Stoke-on-Trent, and, having served with the South Staffordshire and Second Suffolk Regiments in World War I, took the profession of schoolteacher. He taught in Plymouth from 1928 until his retirement in 1955. At that time he was senior French master at the Plymouth Secondary School for Boys. In 1956 he moved to Topsham.

While at Plymouth he was very active in the local societies. He was President of the Plymouth Institution, 1947 to 1949, and of the Plymouth Field Club from 1947 to 1950. He acted as Hon. Secretary of the Plymouth Branch of the Association from 1941 to 1955, as well as of the Old Plymouth Society over about the same period. The latter Society, who have done so much to keep the City Authorities aware of the interest and value of their heritage, owe him a particular debt.

Mr. Copeland’s knowledge of buildings of all periods was encyclopaedic, and the Association has suffered a great loss at the passing of one of its most erudite members. Apart from buildings and their construction, his interests embraced archaeology, heraldry, botany, art, music, and photography. He was a Fellow of the Ancient Monuments Society, and of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of London.

The sympathies of her many friends in the Association are extended to Mrs. Copeland.

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G. W. Copeland was an important figure in the Devonshire Association and most of his activities are covered somewhat briefly in this obituary. What does not come across is his enormous contribution to the Transactions of the Devonshire Association (TDA) and the nature of the 21 papers published therein.

G. W. Copeland was one of the first people within the DA to systematically record various types of buildings and publish his findings in TDA. His series on Devon Dovecotes ran to six papers, between 1937 and 1967, covering several in each. He was acutely aware that these largely redundant agricultural buildings were fast falling into disrepair and wished to record them while they were extant. His work on Devon Church Houses was extensive and his findings published in seven papers between 1960 and 1967. This was again an overlooked type of building that had lost its original purpose and was therefore prone to alterations that often masked its once important status in the community.

We owe G. W. Copeland a debt of gratitude for recording these and other Devon buildings.

Helen Wilson


Papers published in DA’s Transactions

Year  Vol.Pages
1936G. W. CopelandAn Early Fireplace in Membland Hall [Holbeton]68355-357
1937G. W. CopelandDevon Dovecotes69391-401
1937G. W. CopelandBlagdon Barton: a Plea for its Preservation [Paignton]69479-482
1939G. W. CopelandDevon Dovecotes: An Addition71279-282
1941G. W. CopelandFurther Notes on Devon Dovecotes73133-137
1943G. W. CopelandNotes on Devon Dovecotes: Part IV75267-272
1945G. W. CopelandRadford (Plymstock, Devon)77149-156
1949G. W. CopelandCharles Church, Plymouth81271-286
1953G. W. CopelandBuckland Abbey: Some Problems8541-52
1953G. W. CopelandThe History and Work of the Old Plymouth Society8553-55
1955G. W. CopelandWidey Court87230-238
1956G. W. Copeland and A. W. EverettDiscoveries at the Church of St. Andrew, Plymouth88163-173
1956G. W. CopelandNotes on Devon Dovecotes: Part V88197-199
1960G. W. CopelandDevonshire Church Houses92116-141
1961G. W. CopelandDevonshire Church Houses: Part II93250-265
1962G. W. CopelandDevonshire Church Houses: Part III94427-439
1963G. W. CopelandDevonshire Church Houses: Part IV95135-155
1964G. W. CopelandDevonshire Church Houses: Part V96202-207
1966G. W. CopelandDevonshire Church Houses: Part VI98157-167
1967G. W. CopelandDevonshire Church Houses. Part VII99263-266
1967G. W. CopelandMore About Devon Dovecotes99267-272

Other writings in Transactions

1935 p.228 A report of a paper on Inn Signs read to the Plymouth Branch
1938 p.163 A report for Plymouth Branch of Copeland's investigations
1965 p.81  Abstract of a paper on Antiquarian Fallacies