Norman Lockyer was a Victorian amateur astronomer who became the director of the Solar Physics Observatory at South Kensington and the first professor of astronomical physics in the Normal School of Science (now the Royal College of Science) in 1887. He was knighted in 1897.
His second marriage in 1903 was to a widow who had inherited land in Sidmouth where they built a retirement home in 1910.
On the suggestion of Francis McClean, the son of the wealthy amateur astronomer Frank McClean, Lockyer obtained support in 1912 for the building of the Hill Observatory on the hill above the Lockyer house.
McClean donated a telescope from his father’s observatory at Tunbridge Wells and Lockyer obtained a telescope that was no longer required by the Solar Physics Observatory, which was to be moved to Cambridge.
They and others also donated money and other equipment. The Hill Observatory Corporation was established in 1916.
The observatory is now a centre for amateur astronomy, meteorology, amateur radio, and the promotion of science education. The observatory is regularly open to the public.