Saturday, 15 September 2012

A Walk with Words in Budleigh Salterton

A Literary Walk, exploring the writers, scientists and artists who have lived in or written about Budleigh Salterton.

The first Walk will take place on Wednesday 19 September 2012 at 10.00 am starting from Fairlynch Museum Garden at 27 Fore Street. 

A second Walk will start in the afternoon at 2.30 pm.

Some of the writers associated with Budleigh are justly famous.

Many of them reveal unexpected insights into the town and its people which are not widely known. 

Other writers are not at all well known but their fascinating and sometimes eccentric lives make entertaining reading.

The first Walk with Words took place in 2011 as a prelude to Budleigh Salterton's Literary Festival.

The Walk is free, but donations are welcomed.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Craft Fair at Fairlynch

Crafty collage: Glimpses of the attractive items for sale made by local artisans at past Budleigh craft fairs
Fairlynch Museum is holding a Craft Fair on Saturday 8 September 2013 from 12 midday to 4.00 pm.  There will be between eight and ten craft stalls and plants for sale. Tea and coffee will be available.  Now that we have free entry for all the family how about popping in for a look? You never know what you might discover in the way of a special Christmas present!


Sunday, 5 August 2012

Happy for snaps at Fairlynch

In line with a growing tendency by UK museums to allow the use of cameras on their premises Fairlynch has decided that photography by visitors will be permitted under certain circumstances. 

For many years there has been a ban on any kind of filming in galleries and museums but with the growing use of technology such as smartphones many institutions have abandoned the attempt to impose an absolute rule.

The Tate galleries, the National Museum of Wales and the National Maritime Museum are among institutions which permit non-flash photography without the use of a tripod for personal use only.

Others, like Cambridge's Scott Polar Research Institute, rule that photographs taken by visitors must not be reproduced or published in any form, including on the internet, without permission.  Nearer home, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter is even more liberal in permitting flash and tripods, although consideration for other visitors is expected and a ban on photography still applies in some of its temporary galleries.

Smaller museums are showing themselves to be more than ready to follow such trends.

Sam Elliott, Transition Manager at Bolton Library and Museum Service,  believes that the traditional ban on any type of photography is too hard to police.

"The majority of people have cameras on their phones," she said. "It's a compliment that they want to take pictures in the museum."

Dartmouth Museum was one of the Devon museums which changed its rules this year to allow photography except for flash and tripods. Fairlynch has now adopted the same policy allowing cameras for non-commercial use, although our Museum is happy for tripods to be used provided that a steward is consulted. A donation is appreciated.

The issue has caused much scratching of heads among museum professionals. Click on  for an insight.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Friends united in love of their Museum

A recent survey conducted among Friends of Fairlynch has made for encouraging reading.

"We're really grateful as Museum Trustees to all the Friends who took such trouble in answering our recent questionnaire," said Chairman Roger Sherriff.

Thoughts about the Museum's role in the community have been stimulated by the recent abolition of admission charges. The decision to allow free entry has been approved by virtually all those involved with Fairlynch, particularly in view of the fivefold rise in visitor numbers.

Confirmation of the benefits of the new policy came at a recent meeting of the Museum's General Committee with Roger Sherriff's announcement that shop takings had doubled. "Taking into account all cost factors we found that income for a set period before free admission amounted to £740, and for the equivalent period after abolition charges the figure was £800," he said. "So far it's clearly been a success."

Wanting to know why people had joined the Friends of Fairlynch was a key question in the survey. It produced some gratifying answers.

"I love the fact that we have a local museum with information about Budleigh. I wanted to support it and not lose such a valuable resource," was one enthusiastic response. "Wishing to support a lovely museum in a beautiful building," was another which recognised the uniqueness of the Grade II listed building, one of the few thatched museums in Britain.

Among the areas at the Museum of particular interest to Friends was the Local History Room with its impressive archive resources.

But the richness of Budleigh Salterton's heritage in general was recognised, with one Friend suggesting that there should be more "Drama type activities to tell the story of Budleigh and its famous people of the past."

The educational value of Fairlynch and its resources including some fascinating exhibitions was also emphasised, with the belief that there should be enhanced links with local schools.  

The Museum is keen to encourage more Friends to become more involved in its work. "Not everyone has time," was one understandable comment. "Friends should not be made to feel they have to be involved further. Perhaps a listing of actual jobs needed to be done would give a more definite purpose to helping in an area of someone's expertise."

A museum offers so much in the way of cultural variety - from fashion to fossils, from lacemaking to literature and from art to archives - that shared interests between local residents can lead to lasting friendships.  'Become a Friend and gain Friends!' was one suggested marketing slogan for a campaign to recruit more followers of Fairlynch.

In view of the abolition of entry charges at the Museum there has been some agonising over how the move would affect people's view of the benefits of being a Friend. Membership had previously included free admission.  What benefits could now be offered? was one question.  The majority of respondents wanted more special events, with the possibility of a first call for Friends.

But while some thought that the financial benefits of membership might be attractive, the majority weren't interested. 

Clearly the best answer to the question of how one might gain from membership of the Friends of Fairlynch was: "Nothing - it is my privilege to help the Museum"

A home that Hatchard-Smith built: Lavender House

Lavender House, one of no less than 50 houses in Budleigh Salterton designed by Hatchard-Smith  

Instantly recognisable with their red and white decoration and their front doors set within brick arches, the houses built by architect William Hatchard-Smith (1887-1987) are still sought after and appreciated by their owners for their elegance and comfort, their sturdy construction and their attention to practical detail.

Plans for one of the houses designed by Hatchard-Smith

Lavender House, on Moorlands Road, is a four-bedroomed detached family residence built by Hatchard-Smith in the late 1920s when it was originally named Lavenderhay.  Set within what are described as beautifully landscaped gardens of approximately an acre it has recently undergone an extensive refurbishment programme while retaining much of the original charm and character.

The stained glass memorial in Budleigh Salterton's St Peter's Church dedicated to Col Hatchard-Smith and his wife

Colonel William Hatchard-Smith will be long remembered in Budleigh not just for the fifty private residences that he built in the town between the two World Wars but also for the hospitality that he and his wife Margaret offered to some 1,500 overseas servicemen and Rhodes scholars at their home Watch Hill on Cricketfield Lane.


Col Hatchard-Smith celebrates his 100th birthday with, left, Mr Waddington, Manager of Lloyd's Bank, paying tribute to the bank's oldest client. Mrs Eileen Brookes, Chairman of Budleigh Salterton Town Council, presented flowers from the Town Council.

An album of plans of the many buildings that he designed was presented to  Fairlynch Museum in 1989 and this has been supplemented over the years with additional material. The result is a valuable archive of an important aspect of Budleigh's architectural heritage.

Lavender House is being marketed by Bradleys with a guide price of £1,100,000. For more details see

The following houses in Budleigh were built by Hatchard-Smith, listed with their original names:

Before 1923
Wildflowers, 23 East Budleigh Road
Heatherlands, 13 Links Road
Reed Thatch, 6 Vales Road

Heath End, 10 Northview Road
Ben Aros, 10 Lansdowne Road
Heath Cottage, 8 Lansdowne Road
Ridge End, 1 Westfield Close
Lawnside, 11 Westfield Road
Marden, 11A Exmouth Road
Lyonesse, 12 Fore Street Hill
Knotsfield, 9 Coastguard Road
Edzell, 31 Northview Road
Invermay, Knowle Hill
Ash Hayes, 9 Knowle Road
Mayen, 12 Links Road
Bank Head, Knowle Village
Windy Ridge, 6 Upper Stoneborough Lane
Crag Fell, 8 Upper Stoneborough Lane
Yondercott, 7 East Budleigh Road
Ottercombe, 15 Coastguard Road

Upper Westcott, 33-35 Northview Road
Watch Hill, 3 Cricketfield Lane
Lavenderhay, 9 Moorlands Road
Caughley, 10 Upper Stoneborough Lane
Edradynate, 6 East Terrace
Grasslands, 7 Knowle Road
Lace Acre, 1 Boucher Road
Little Garth, Ting Tong
Tahuna, 29 Exmouth Road
Moneens, 11 Moorlands Road
Hedges, 4 & 6 Sherbrook Hill
Kenmure, 18 Copp Hill Lane
Silhari, 10 Moorlands Road
Braemoray, Ting Tong
Round Hill, 11 Knowle Road
White House, 2 Exmouth Road
Down-Along, 96 (check) Granary Lane
Langbrae, 12 Moorlands Road
Documentation is incomplete for:
Gorse Cottage, 15 Northview Road
Grey Gables, 7 Moorlands Road

Nairn, 20 Copp Hill lane
Coppledown, 11 Bedlands Lane
Inner Ting Tong

Half Acre, 19 Copp Hill Lane
Caledon, 5 Westbourne Terrace
Beechcroft, 6 Cliff Terrace

Maylands, 4 Mansfield Terrace
Upper Sherbrook, 13 Sherbrook Hill
Clover Cottage, 3 Moorlands Road
Hillfields, 1 Moorlands Road
Norman Lodge, 22 Copp Hill Lane
Rose Ash, 9 Westfield Road
Little Bridge, 31 Knowle Road
Exton, 23 East Budleigh Road

Many other properties with incomplete documentation are listed in Fairlynch Museum's archives.  

People from the past: 5. Jack Wilson

Jack Wilson, right, with his rowing partner Ran Laurie

With the wonderful news of British sporting success in the 2012 London Olympics it seems right to remember some Budleigh residents of the past who may have inspired today's champions.  

John Hyrne Tucker Wilson, known as Jack Wilson, was a British rowing champion and Olympic gold medallist whose family lived at Elvestone on Fore Street Hill. Born on 17 September 1914 in Bristol, Rhode Island, USA, to British parents, he was educated in Texas and Shrewsbury School in Shropshire, before attending Pembroke College, Cambridge.

While at Cambridge, he rowed in three successive Boat Races (1934–36) in which Cambridge defeated Oxford. During the 1935 and 1936 races, he rowed alongside Ran Laurie, father of the actor Hugh Laurie, who became his rowing partner after Cambridge and a life-long friend.

After graduating from University, Wilson took a post as a District Commissioner with the Sudan Political Service, missing an opportunity to participate alongside Laurie in Britain’s Eights boat at the 1936 Olympics. With Laurie joining the Sudan Political Service the following year, the two men joined forces in rowing and, while on leave from colonial service in 1938, won the Silver Goblets at Henley Royal Regatta.

Both Wilson and Laurie returned to Sudan following their success, and continued to serve in the Sudan Political Service through the Second World War. In 1946, Wilson survived an attack by a local woman in Sudan who threw an assegai spear at him.

In 1948 Wilson and Laurie returned to Henley and once again won the Silver Goblets, having had little training and no opportunity to row since their success in the event ten years earlier. This was followed later that year by an Olympic gold medal, once again rowing at Henley.

Jack Wilson retired from the colonial service in 1954 and worked for the British Steel Corporation. He died on 16 February 1997, aged 82.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Good Fellows of Budleigh and Sidmouth

With the Carter bicentenary approaching in 2013 and that of Peter Orlando Hutchinson (1810-97) still fresh in local minds where better to go than to Sidmouth Museum, seen above, to discover how a town only a few miles along the coast from Budleigh commemorated one of its best known characters from the Victorian age.

For P.O.H., though born in Winchester, is very much part of Sidmouth's local history. And the town clearly cherishes its illustrious former residents which include four past Fellows of the Royal Society.

Sir Ambrose Fleming (1849-1945) worked with Marconi, and invented the diode valve. 

Sir Norman Lockyer (1836-1920), shown above, discovered helium and the spectrum of the sun, and was Editor of Nature for 50 years from its foundation. 

Sidney George Brown (1873-1948) was an inventor and engineer who devised the gyro-compass. His company S.G. Brown Ltd was based at Watford. 

And finally there was Frederick Lindemann (1886-1957) who was Churchill's scientific adviser, honoured as the 1st Viscount Cherwell.

The four Fellows naturally get pride of place in Sidmouth's Museum, an attractive building called Hope Cottage next to the Parish Church, donated to the Town Council by Miss Constance Radford in August 1925 and leased to the Sid Vale Association. Its Curator is Dr Bob Symes OBE, a former Keeper and Head of the Department of Mineralogy at the Natural History Museum in London.

There's a cabinet devoted to each FRS displaying relevant gadgets such as the gyro compass manufactured by S.G. Brown. But there are also photos of traders, fishermen and local authors such as R.F. Delderfield whose centenary we've been celebrating this year.

And then of course there's P.O.H.  Not a Fellow of the Royal Society of course. In fact he was a self-educated kind of fellow, but what a character. An author, artist, eccentric who insisted on wearing military uniform though not entitled to do so, antiquary, amateur geologist, long-distance walker - his walking-stick is one of the items on view - numismatist, and some might say trouble-maker.

American readers may like to know that Peter Orlando Hutchinson was great grandson to Thomas Hutchinson (1711-1780) the controversial Governor of Massachusetts who was prominent in events such as the Boston Tea Party that led to the War of Independence.

Sidmouth Parish Church
Photo credit: Eugene Birchall 

Certainly he stirred up a hornets' nest of bitter feelings on issues such as the renovation of Sidmouth Parish Church.  Queen Victoria had agreed to donate a window in memory of her father who had died in Sidmouth in 1820. Outraged on learning of its planned location, P.O.H. went so far as to take his letter of protest to the Queen at Osborne House, the royal residence on the Isle of Wight. His diary records his arrival at Cowes on 19 Sept 1860 at 3.00 pm. "At the hotel I changed into my uniform and found the use of it. Sentries presented arms and the Queen's gatekeeper threw the portal open wide as he saw me approach."

Queen Victoria in 1860 by the painter J.J.E. Mayall

Although his planned interview with the Queen did not take place he succeeded in having his message about the changes at the Parish Church conveyed to Victoria, who consequently withdrew her grant for the window "until the disputes respecting it are settled." Needless to say, the Church Restoration Committee was outraged at P.O.H's actions.

Yes, Sidmouth Museum has done a good job on P.O.H. and its other worthy former residents. Some might think it's as charmingly quirky and cluttered in a way similar to our own Fairlynch Museum in Budleigh. And one senses a real affection for Sidmouth's characters from the past on the part of  the volunteers who've put together displays about the interesting lives of former residents. This nicely-produced biography of P.O.H. is on sale for the modest sum of £1.

Those who want to spend a bit more can splash out on the splendid edition of Peter Orlando Hutchinson's Diary of a Devon Antiquary: The Illustrated Journals & Sketchbooks 1871-1894.

And Budleigh's own Henry Carter FRS, seen above? He was of course a totally different character, though a near contemporary. A professional man who qualified as a surgeon, but like many who studied medicine at that time including his contemporary and admirer Charles Darwin, with a keen interest in natural history. And with a career spent many thousands of miles from East Devon on the Arabian coast and in Bombay, amidst the hardships of a continent where diseases were rife and the climate was often harsh.

Most of his time seems to have been spent looking down a microscope at amoebas, bits of old fossil and pieces of sponge. For it's as a spongiologist that he made his name, with 26 kinds of sponge named after him and with his researches still valued by experts in the field today. That includes those scientists who are discovering the exciting possibilities that sponges can provide in the development of anti-cancer drugs.

No biography of Carter has been written. No diaries and few letters have been preserved. Yet slowly we can gain an insight into his character from the 1,894 pages that he wrote on geology and natural history which appeared in 127 publications during his lifetime.

A decent man with high moral aims. Like his distinguished anatomy professor William Sharpey he saw the study of natural history as something equally valuable as medicine in terms of its benefit to humanity. More than 30 years after their first meeting, Carter revealed how such thinking had moulded his own philosophy of life. A letter he wrote to Sharpey from Budleigh Salterton on 30 May 1872, ten years after his return from India, described how he was "devoting my leisure to scientific studies in order to follow your precept of making fellow-creatures better and happy."

One couldn't really ask for anything more from a scientist.

'Sea, Salt & Sponges!' the next Fairlynch Museum exhibition commemorating the birth of Henry John Carter FRS will run from mid-April to the end of September 2013.


Saturday, 21 July 2012

Survival! continues to thrill

Above: On show in Fairlynch. (L-r) Harry Dickason, Victor Campbell, George Abbott, Raymond Priestley, Murray Levick, Frank Browning.  

These six men, the northern party of Captain Scott's last expedition, stand outside the entrance to the snow hole in which they have just spent the 1911-1912 Antarctic Winter in darkness. Photo taken 24 Sept 1912. Photo credit: Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge

Half-through the final year of Fairlynch Museum's exhibition about the epic story of Scott's Northern Party it seems an appropriate moment to record some recent enthusiastic comments from visitors, made since this season's opening in mid-April.

Free admission is bringing in many more of them than in previous years, and 2012 being the centenary of Scott's death - as well as that of  R.F. Delderfield's birth along with the Year of the London Olympics and the Royal Jubilee - may see even more in the coming months.

The 'Survival!' exhibition really will be the last chance to see some of the rare artefacts and personal belongings on display in Fairlynch which give such an insight into the extraordinary bravery of these Antarctic pioneers.

It's especially gratifying to see how the Museum has been praised for its part in bringing Levick's story to light.

"What a wonderful, informative exhibition!" wrote Dr and Mrs Kurt Ebner from Kansas, USA. "Levick's and companions' story has been overshadowed by Scott's story, and it is very impressive to see it told so well here at Fairlynch Museum. Thank you."

Equally pleasing have been comments from visitors like Pauline Young, a former member of the Committee of Friends of the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge. "A wonderful find, having worked with SCOTT 100 for three years," she wrote in our visitors' book. "Fantastic exhibition which told me a lot I did not know!!"

Further comments are below:  

"I particularly enjoyed the polystyrene ice-cave - very innovative!"
Mable, Budleigh
"Extremely interesting exhibition with excellent displays. Shows a different side of the known story."
M. and T. Rowlands, Sheffield
"Brilliant, fantastic to see some of Levick's photos and original equipment. Very well laid out and very absorbing."
"Very interesting and very informative."
"So pleased you have been able to mount this exhibition. We need to learn about such great people. Much enjoyed."
"What courage and tenacity! Such bravery."
Penny Turner
"Very interesting exhibition. Thank you for the display."
"Their story is well known but still fascinating and touching."
"Excellent exhibition. Good to have detail of the Northern Party and their amazing story of survival and achievement, thanks mostly it would seem to Budleigh Salterton's Levick."
"Thank you, thank you, thank you. I hope to come back."
Peter White
"Superb. My congratulations and thanks for the thought and effort that has gone into this exhibition!" "Came here especially to see Antarctic display re Levick and Inexpressible Island because we actually visited this Island in January this year during our expedition to the Ross Sea area."
Phil and Karen Tempest
"Loved the Antarctic display."
Rosie and Adrian Bower.

Visitors' experience of the Museum in general have been excellent judging by the following comments:

"I would find it hard to say which section is my favourite!"
S. Targett
"We have all said we could spend a whole week in here!"
The Mann Family, Birmingham
"I'd like to live in the museum! Fantastic collection and family history."
J. Kennard
"Lovely looking at the Royal Folder."
S. Davies
"Amazing museum - thank you!"
Archie and Jerry Smith
"Loved all of it and the school records."
Gill and Terry Day
"Very enjoyable."
Sue and Colin
"Very interesting. Well displayed artefacts."
Ron and Lesley Turner.
"Lovely. Thank you."
Julie Faber
"A very interesting museum! Thank you."
H. White

Comment from Dave Pearce, outdoor survival expert :
"This is an amazing story of survival and true grit which is so well laid out by the museum for all to enjoy."  Dave Pearce