Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Wanted! Good books.

Read any good books lately? asks the poster.   The Good Book Sale at Fairlynch Museum on 28 June 2014 will be a great opportunity to find books recommended by Friends of Fairlynch and others at bargain prices.

But the organisers need good books to get started.

If you have any that you think people would enjoy please start making a pile of them ready to take to the Museum during opening hours.  Or you can phone for a collection to be made from your home: 01395 442666 or 01395 446429. 

Just one or two books offered as a gift to the Museum would be appreciated by the organisers if you don’t have an entire library to give away.  Please start looking now.

The Susan Ward Collection at Fairlynch

 Friend of Fairlynch Museum and founder of Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival Susan Ward, left,  with Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy at a Brook Gallery reception in September 2010    Picture credit: Brook Gallery

New acquisitions in the Museum’s display of costumes this year consist of items from the Susan Ward Collection.  

When Susan and her husband Charles moved to Budleigh Salterton in 2005 she soon became involved in fundraising for Fairlynch, becoming a Trustee of the Museum's Endowment Fund.  But it was the Literary Festival that she founded which then became her real passion.

The first three-day Festival opened on 18 September 2009 with a strong line-up, including Hilary Mantel, H.R.F. Keating, Val McDermid, Simon Brett, the actor Sheila Mitchell and journalist Virginia Ironside.

Very sadly, after a long illness, Susan died peacefully at home in Budleigh on 19 June 2012.  Thanks to a thoughtful gesture on the part of Professor Charles Ward, visitors will now have the chance to admire these items, some of which are on display in the dressing room. 


An Victorian cream silk dress with beige embroidery 


A Edwardian black tussore silk dress with bustle, or framework to support the drapery at the back of the dress. Tussore silk comes from the larvae of the tussore moth and related species.


This maid’s outfit will be kept in the Study Section of the Fairlynch Costume Department.


Costume curator Iris Ansell with one of the dresses from the Susan Ward Collection which will also be part of the Study Section.

One of the special items in the Susan Ward Collection is a  mannequin of the Edwardian period.  “Very interesting indeed,” was Iris Ansell’s comment.

And hiding under the Victorian dress was a 1970s dress which Costume Department volunteers found, to great excitement. “It’s perfect” said Iris. “Just as I remember them from that period!”

Museum welcomes guests at Preview Evening

Friends of Fairlynch and many other supporters of the Museum enjoyed the opportunity of seeing the new season’s displays during our evening opening on 3 April.
Many local Councillors attended the event. Left to right are Cllrs Alan Dent and Caz Sismore-Hunt, together with Alan Tilbury (President of Budleigh Salterton Chamber of Commerce).

The theme of the 2014 Costume Exhibition is ‘Fashion in the 1920s’, illustrated by this display of a dress shop interior. 

Included in the Lace Room display are items made by a former Fairlynch lacemaker, recently donated to the Museum by her niece who lives in the USA.

Also in the Costume Room is a display of dolls and toys entitled  ‘Hidden Treasures.’

L-r: Lynn Cook, Bernard Hadley, Christine Bailey, Margaret Williams and Martyn Brown.

L-r. Iris Ansell, Laurence Scullion and Dr James Scullion. Previously involved with the Bowes Museum, Durham, Laurence is helping the Fairlynch costume department with restoration work. 


Budleigh Salterton Mayor Steve Hall is seen with Fairlynch Local History Group member Sheila Jelley. The LHG, consisting of Margaret Brett, John Hedderly and Glenn Sismore-Hunt, have been hard at work staging the ‘Great War at Fairlynch' Exhibition.

Detailed research for the Exhibition has been carried out on local residents of the Lower Otter Valley who were involved with the 1914-18 World Conflict. 

The 'Great War at Fairlynch' has benefited from a substantial grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.   

 Also at the Preview Evening were Fairlynch Chairman Roger Sherriff, left, and Museum Secretary Michael Downes

Seen here (l-r) are Edward MacMullen, Angie Wilkinson and Mary MacMullen in the recently refurbished section of the Museum used for displays of Archaeology and Geology, formerly known as the Environment Room.  Mr MacMullen is the son of Fairlynch Museum’s late President Priscilla Hull. The Room has been renamed in her honour as well as a tribute to her father, local archaeologist George Carter.

The south wall of the Priscilla Carter Room, much admired by guests, was designed by the Bristol-based firm of Smith and Jones Design Consultants http://www.smithandjones.co.uk/ 
Click on the image to see the whole wall.

The 2014 exhibitions close on 30 September. Opening hours are 2.00-4.30 pm Tuesday to Sunday. Admission is free.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

A debt of gratitude

Much respected Treasurer of Fairlynch Jim Milverton finally handed on his account book today when he stepped down after looking after the Museum’s finances for many years.

The most important position in any Board of Trustees is that of Treasurer,” said Museum Chairman Roger Sherriff. “Fairlynch has been very fortunate to have a Treasurer like Jim. As  the consummate professional he has managed the Museum finances using sound judgement and his extensive knowledge.”

Jim, who with his wife Rose lives on Budleigh Salterton’s Coastguard Road, has also been Treasurer of the town’s Relief in Need Charity.

Looking after the Museum’s finances has often been complicated by issues arising from maintenance of the historic Grade II listed building, but Jim has proved to be a steady guiding hand, said Roger Sherriff.

“After over six years as Treasurer he is leaving the Museum’s finances well and truly in the black. We will miss his wise counsel and gentle good humour and we wish him and Rose well for the future.”

Farewell gifts from his fellow-trustees at the Museum included a bottle of fine wine and a garden voucher.

Jim’s successor as Fairlynch Treasurer is Nick Speare.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

New season at Fairlynch

Budleigh Salterton’s Fairlynch Museum welcomed visitors today with a range of brand new exhibitions and a smartly designed and renamed ground floor room to house its archaeological and geological artefacts.

For the first time in many years the Museum will be open on Saturdays, giving Budleigh weekend visitors the chance to appreciate something of the town’s heritage as well as soaking up the sun on the beach.

The World War One centenary, an exhibition of 1920s fashion, beautiful displays of lace, a collection of children’s toys and a look at the folders in Local History Room will all make for a fascinating afternoon for visitors. Especially if the sun doesn’t make an appearance.

Archaeological and geological items at the Museum, including the remarkable radioactive pebbles described by scientist Max Perutz, are on display in the refurbished Priscilla Carter Room.

Find out more about Fairlynch by clicking on our sites at http://devonmuseums.net/fairlynch    and  facebook.com/Fairlynch

Storm at the Brook

Pink Floyd lovers and many many others will be delighted to see that the Brook Gallery’s Easter show is devoted to work by graphic designer the late Storm Thorgerson.


A teenage friend of Floyd founders Syd Barrett and Roger Waters, Thorgerson, pictured above, was responsible for designing album covers for many other well known rock artists including Led Zeppelin, Bruce Dickinson and Muse.

We're delighted to welcome the Brook Gallery as the latest Corporate Friend of Fairlynch Museum. The Gallery's Storm Studios Show  runs until 4 May. If you can’t get along to see it in Budleigh Salterton take a look at  http://www.brookgallery.co.uk/category.php?catid=126  to see the kind of amazing designs produced by Thorgerson, who sadly died last year aged 69.

Photo of Storm Thorgerson credit: Jheald

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Shades of the Great War are all around us (1)


The Temple Church in Redcliffe, Bristol, founded in the mid-12th century, was bombed in November 1940 during the Bristol Blitz. More than 80 years later it still stands as a ruin 

When I was born, in 1946, the Second World War had only just finished but my childish memories of its impact are still vivid. Rationing wasn’t completely abolished for another eight years. I think I remember car parks in Bristol which seemed to have been made out of enormous bomb craters.
And some parents had vivid stories to tell: my mother seemed to have enjoyed her times in the WRNS, in safety in Scotland, while, disturbingly my father told atrocious stories of how he and his tank crew had dealt with the Japanese in Burma.  Other parents, of course, never spoke of those days.
I never tired of endless WW2 films and devoured books of PoW escape stories. Though that may have been my own escapism from a succession of ghastly boarding schools.

But WW1? There’s a strange gap in my memories. No grandparents seemed to have fought or even done heroic deeds in the equivalent of WW2’s Home Guard. 


Wilhelm II, Emperor of Germany and King of Prussia: the villain of World War I?

For me WW1 remained mysterious. A senseless slaughter on all sides. Kaiser Wilhelm never had the frightening stature of WW2’s ranting bogeymen Hitler and Mussolini.  And the Gestapo and Germany’s brutal persecution of the Jews were associated in my mind with sadistic boarding school bullies. 

So in 1995, maybe to get back at the bullies, I wrote a book about WW2’s impact on the small town of Oundle in Northamptonshire.

Twenty years earlier, however, we had bought our first house.  There must have been a mania for stripped pine, for we set to work scraping off all that dark brown stain and woodgrain - the gloomy grey-green varnish which was supposed to look like finely grained wood.   

Beneath the stain which covered some tongue and groove panelling on the first floor landing we found the name  H.B. Hancock and the date 1912 etched into the wood. The decorator had obviously left his mark. Out of respect we left it.

Oundle's war memorial and the Talbot Hotel, a drawing by Diana Leigh

 It was a few years later that while passing the town’s war memorial I noticed our decorator’s name and the date of his death: 1917. 

The Battle of Arras: a photo dated 24 April 1917.  A battery of 18-pounder field guns under German fire close to Monchy-le-Preux. In the foreground is an advanced dressing station.
Oundle man Harry Baxter Hancock would die four days later

Thanks to the internet I can now read fuller details:
Harry Baxter Hancock  
Private, 24422, 11th (Cambs) Suffolk Regiment. Killed in action Roeux 28-04-17. Born, enlisted and resident Oundle. Commemorated on Arras Memorial, Bay 04.

Elsewhere I found an item from the Northampton Mercury for 24 Aug 1894. It reported that his father James Harry Hancock, of Oundle, also a painter and decorator, "for neglecting to have his child, Harry Baxter Hancock, vaccinated, was ordered to pay 6s. costs and have the child vaccinated within 14 days."

Poor Harry.  The vaccination may have protected him from smallpox but did nothing to save him from death in his twenties.  

I hope the new owners of our Oundle house have kept that little bit of panelling as we left it. 
Four years after settling in Budleigh Salterton I got an email out of the blue from a Joseph Byrne, writing from Ireland.  He’d found me via a Cape Cod website. Isn’t the internet amazing!  The ghosts of the past can use it to help us tell their stories. Again, I found myself investigating the sad death of another victim of WW1.

You can read about him in a future installment, which will appear on the following site at http://fairlynchgreatwar.blogspot.co.uk/  

 I’m calling the site The Great War at Fairlynch and over the next four years I reckon I’ll be spending a fair bit of time there, and less on Budleigh & Brewster.