Most of the 'twinned' Devon communities have been linked to partners in France, although Sidmouth has a Swiss twin and Ottery chose Otari in Japan.
It was one of the Pilgrim Fathers, Elder William Brewster (c. 1566 -1644), seen here, who gave his name to a Massachusetts community with which Budleigh Salterton has a special link.
Located 65 miles directly south-east of Boston, the Cape Cod town is bigger than its UK relative but shares many characteristics with Budleigh apart from its coastal situation.
The picture of our famous beach on the Brewster Chamber of Commerce website inspired me to investigate further what had happened to this attempt at a special relationship. Early enthusiasm for twinning was noted at the time by newspapers like The Cape Codder and The Cape Cod Times, reporting that more than 500 Brewster citizens had voted for the idea and had "unanimously approved the symbolic joining of the two towns."
Many Budleigh residents, including the Town Council, have welcomed the revival of the connection as "a good idea." East Devon Councillor Ray Franklin "could not think of a better part of the USA to link up with" and Devon County Councillor Christine Channon found Brewster "a delightful town" when she visited New England in 2007.
For those residents of both communities who would like to keep in touch with their transatlantic cousins I set up a community news website. It's been a quick way of learning about the local area since my wife Anthea and I moved here two years ago, and it's been interesting to discover the similarities - historical, cultural and environmental - which we share with our neighbours across the pond. The website is enjoyed by readers with internet access on both sides of the Atlantic and was the subject of a feature in June last year by Times journalist Alex Wade http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/travel/outdoors/article6582488.ece
It's even read in Transylvania thanks to the link that Brewster First Parish (Unitarian Universalist) Church has had with the Romanian Jobbagyfalva Unitarian Church since 1989.
“An internet based version of twinning sounds an interesting idea,” commented Geoff Beech, Secretary of Exmouth Twinning Association. “It could even be described as a ‘green’ version, which may become more relevant in the not too distant future!”
If you would like to be kept informed of progress on the revival of the Budleigh-Brewster link, please contact me on 01395 446407 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
A slightly amended version of this post has been published in the February 2010 issue of Budleigh Salterton St Peter's Church newsletter http://www.stpeterbs.org.uk/