Thursday, 11 June 2015

Joyce Dennys cards on sale at Fairlynch

Few local artists are as well known in Budleigh Salterton for their keen eye and their witty portrayal of small town life as Joyce Dennys, whose achievements were celebrated recently with the installation of a blue plaque at Lion House, her former home on Fore Street Hill.


Joyce Dennys died in 1991 after a remarkable career as book illustrator, wartime poster designer, novelist, playwright and of course painter. Some of her paintings are owned by Budleigh Salterton Town Council and hang in the Public Hall, while others are on display at Fairlynch Museum.   

Early in 1995, the Museum commissioned a professional photographer to produce prints of seven of her paintings. The most successful prints would be used for the production of greetings cards, for sale at Fairlynch. The cards have proved so popular that a new batch has been produced and are now on sale at the Museum.

The example seen above is part of a series of mermaid-themed fantasy images in a local setting that Joyce Dennys completed. This particular scene, identifiable as Budleigh beach, was painted as a mural in the bathroom of Lion House.

Dick Edmunds is seen, left, next to Joyce Dennys in a 1961 amateur production of the 1950s play All for Mary written by Kay Bannerman and Harold Brooke 

Like some of the artist’s other work involving mermaids, it features a white-moustachioed elderly gentleman being led astray.   

Some locals believe that the character was modelled on Dick Edmunds, who had appeared in amateur dramatic productions with Joyce Dennys. But the artist always denied such rumours.

The greetings cards are on sale for £2.00 each, only at the Museum. You can buy a set of three for £5.00.  

Monday, 8 June 2015

Museum stars in tale of Jurassic Coast heroes

The second book of the Budding Creativity project managed by Budleigh Salterton Decorative & Fine Arts Society was launched on 1 June at the town’s St Peter’s Church. 

It features the same young Budleigh heroes Peter, Caroline, Eddie and Bud the dog, whose adventures were the basis of the first book in the series. The Times of their Lives takes the reader on a trip back to the age of Queen Elizabeth I. Which ties in rather well with the opening earlier this year of the Sir Walter Ralegh Room at Fairlynch Museum.

Artist Jed Falby's mural shows the young Budleigh heroes passing through the time portal in All Saints Church where they enter the colourful age of the Tudors 

Sir Walter, Sir Francis Drake, Queen Elizabeth herself and even William Shakespeare all make an appearance in this ripping yarn where imagination plays as important a part as historical fact. 

We learn for example that Fairlynch Museum’s thatched roof was paid for by the sale of a Shakespeare sonnet, written on parchment and discovered by the young heroes following their return to the 21st century from the age of the Tudors.

HMS Ark Royal in Simon Wood's pebble art on Budleigh Salterton beach. The Elizabethan ship was originally built for Sir Walter Ralegh and named Ark Ralegh

The Times of their Lives was composed by pupils from St Peter’s School in Budleigh Salterton, Drake’s School in East Budleigh, Otterton School, and The Maynard School in Exeter. Members of Exmouth Community College and Colyton Grammar School also contributed to the murals and film which accompanied the book’s publication.  

Budleigh pebble artist Simon Wood was another contributor. His creations have been likened in the local press to the work of Banksy. Click here to read more about that. 

The Times of their Lives is on sale at £5.00 at various outlets in Budleigh Salterton, including the Tourist Information Centre and Fairlynch Museum.  

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Aspects of Fairlynch 4: The Priscilla Carter Room

In the fourth of a series of posters illustrating different aspects of Fairlynch Museum we look at some of the items from the Geology, Archaeology and Natural History sections in the Priscilla Carter Room.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Fairlynch Museum 2015 exhibitions

Our new poster for the 2015 Fairlynch exhibitions. Click on the image to make it bigger.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

The Polyphon is back!

One of Fairlynch Museum’s best-known artefacts is home again after a spell of thorough restoration at the hands of experts in mechanical music. The overhaul was made possible by a generous donation from a Friend of the Museum.

“A rather sedate and old-fashioned juke-box” is how the Exmouth Journal described Fairlynch’s polyphon in June 1968 when the museum had been open for only a year. Since then, its tinkly rendering of familiar tunes has entertained thousands of visitors.

Polyphon is the trade name given to disc-playing music boxes first manufactured by the Polyphon Musikwerke, located in Leipzig, Germany. Invented in 1870, full-scale production started around 1897 and continued into the early 1900s. Polyphons were exported all over the world and music was supplied for the English, French and German markets, as well as further afield.

Museum records show that Fairlynch’s instrument originally came from the King’s Arms, Otterton and give it a date of 14 November 1898.

You can listen to a sample of the Polyphon’s music online here  but better still, call at Fairlynch Museum and see it in action.

The Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 2.00-4.30pm. Admission is free but a small charge is made to operate the Polyphon.

Maggie Giraud teams up with Fairlynch Arts Centre

Maggie Giraud

Long hidden pictures in Fairlynch’s art collection are being put on display thanks to the efforts of volunteers including locally-based freelance art historian and curator Maggie Giraud.

Maggie’s talk ‘Understanding Henri Matisse’ was chosen to round off the Museum’s AGM on 29 April. It was one of many talks which she will be giving during 2015.

A Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Maggie lists her specialist topics as Renaissance Florence, the early 20th century period in Paris, and Dartington Hall, where she was employed as curator and archivist.  


High Cross House, Dartington Hall

Image credit: Ruth Sharville

Maggie was the founding curator of High Cross House at Dartington, designed by Swiss-American architect William Lescaze in 1932 and considered to be one of the UK's best examples of modernist architecture. On 20 May, at the Ken Stradling Collection Design Study Centre in Bristol, she will be giving a talk on the building and renovation of High Cross House.

Much closer to home, and starting in May, Maggie will be doing four ‘walk and talk’ sessions at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter around the ‘Eye to Image’, the exhibition of four decades of the work of Devon painter Benedict Rubbra. These are for members of the Art Fund and for Friends of RAMM, but if you would like to attend do contact the organizer through Maggie’s website at

Another hands-on Chairman for Museum

New Fairlynch Chairman Trevor Waddington at work on a new project. What he’s holding will be yet another story for the Museum
Friends of Fairlynch Museum approved the appointment of a new Chairman at their Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 29 April.

Trevor Waddington moved to Budleigh Salterton in 2012, retiring after a 35-year career in the Royal Navy followed by 17 years of running an antique clocks business in Bradford on Avon. 

Brought up in Peterborough, he joined the Royal Navy at the age of 15, retiring with the rank of Commander and the award of an OBE in the 1992 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.   

With a background in engineering, Trevor’s hobby of clock restoration seemed appropriate. After graduating from the West Dean College/British Antique Dealers' Association diploma course in the conservation-restoration of antique clocks he went on to become a Fellow of the British Horological Institute, a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers, and a member of the Antiquarian Horological Society.

Retirement opened up a range of other possibilities however.  Last year Trevor gained a History degree from the Open University. “As an 11-plus ‘failure’ of the 1950s I have been motivated to prove myself ever since,” he told the Budleigh Journal in May 2014. “The achievement of an Open University degree at the age of 71 is therefore the realisation of a life-long dream.” 

Trevor is also Treasurer of the Otter Valley Association and helps to administer its Local Heritage Assets Scheme. He’s a steward at the National Trust’s A La Ronde at Exmouth. And if that were not enough, he runs the Exeter Flotilla’s Annual Trafalgar Service at Exeter Cathedral. This is an event that draws a large congregation, normally including the Lord Lieutenant and the High Sheriff of Devon, the Lord Mayor of Exeter and other senior civic dignitaries together with senior Royal Navy and Royal Marine Officers.

It’s pretty clear that quirky little Fairlynch Museum will be maintaining the success that it has enjoyed under the previous chairmanship of Roger Sherriff. Under Trevor, some would say, it’ll be combining its quirky charm with naval efficiency, going full steam ahead and running like clockwork.    

“Daunting,” is how he views the prospect of his latest challenge.  “However there's a very good team of Trustees to guide me!” he says.  “My overall aim will be to build on the successes achieved by my predecessor.  In particular, the Sir Walter Ralegh exhibition has set a gold standard of presentation.  Fairlynch's professionalism and reputation can be enhanced still further by bringing the Museum's other exhibitions up to the same high standard.”