Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Garments for the Games

With several important anniversaries and national events taking place this year Fairlynch's volunteer helpers have had their work cut out choosing appropriate items among the many thousands of items in store at the Museum for its 2012 exhibitions.

Inspired by the London Olympics, the costumes team at Fairlynch have come up with a selection of garments from the past which offer an amusing contrast with today's sports clothing, as designed for example for the 2012 Games by Stella McCartney.

Some of the costumes on display recall the long history of Budleigh Salterton's many sporting groups. The Croquet Club, for example, one of the oldest of its kind in Britain, is well represented at Fairlynch.

And a golfing figure in the exhibition should remind us that the East Devon Golf Club was founded way back in 1902, visited over the years by many celebrities including the future Edward VIII in 1921. 

The model of a lady archer is a reminder that archery was very popular in Victorian times. Practised by Queen Victoria herself the sport was considered a graceful exercise which taught dexterity. Just a few miles west of Budleigh is the ground used by Exmouth Archers whose origins go back to a club first formed in Exmouth in 1885 by Major Bridges.

Horseriding has always been popular in the local area and an equestrian figure was only to be expected in the exhibition. The author R.F. Delderfield was introduced to it while living in Budleigh by the town's GP 'Doctor Tom', who told him that "every day spent out of the saddle is a day wasted."  Delderfield himself, writing in 1950, was struck by the "terrifying" aspect of some of the lady-riders when he first went hunting. "Two or three of them rode side-saddle and one looked exactly like Queen Elizabeth reviewing the Home Guard at Tilbury."

While the models in the main exhibition room at Fairlynch are all female an insight into male sporting attire of the past is provided with a showcase into what the active Victorian or Edwardian gentleman might have worn.  

 Items include a Cambridge Blue's tennis jacket and a 19th century hunting pink jacket, with a top hat and a pair of boots. There's even an attaché's blazer from the 1964 Olympics along with a cricketer's blazer, with cap, flannels and shoes, all from the 1920s.  

Talking of cricket it's worth mentioning that Budleigh Salterton Cricket Club is one of the longest established in the county with the first match reports dating back to 1858. Many great players have visited it, including Richie Benaud and Sir Donald Bradman who convalesced in Budleigh for three months whilst recovering from illness.

Along with its sports clubs, Budleigh Salterton can boast a number of sporting legends associated with the town.  The Fairlynch exhibition features in Kay Ray a local resident who represented Great Britain in cycling and was much involved with the sport from the 1950s to the 1970s.

Elsewhere on this site, you'll find a piece about Audrey Levick (1890-1980), wife of the naval surgeon on Scott's last Antarctic expedition, who, as Audrey Beeton, pictured above, represented her country in lacrosse and settled in retirement with her husband just outside the town.  Click on http://budleighbrewsterunited.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/audrey-levick-1890-1980.html

 Then there's the badminton and tennis champion and Budleigh resident Ethel Thomson Larcombe (1879-1965), seen here above right,  whose success as Wimbledon tennis champion exactly a century ago will no doubt be celebrated this year by the tennis players at the town's Games Club.  

And the Olympic rower Jack Wilson (1914-97) who lived at Elvestone in Budleigh, seen on the right in the above photo.   My US readers will be pleased to know that he was born in Bristol, Rhode Island and apparently has the distinction of being the only Olympic gold medallist ever born in that state, Americans included.  After school in Texas, he attended Shrewsbury School in England and then entered Pembroke College, Cambridge University, where he met his Olympic partner and life-long friend 'Ran' Laurie, father of the actor Hugh Laurie. He was President of the Cambridge University Boat Club in 1936. A comprehensive account of his life is given at http://www.ovapedia.org.uk/index.php?page=some-families-that-lived-at-elvestone-reade-ravenscroft-schirmacher-ikin-osgood-the-wilsons-budleigh-salterton-c19-20 

Both the fashion-conscious and the sports enthusiast will find much to entertain and interest them in the Museum's 2012 exhibition, which opens from Friday 6 April 2012.

This post links to an item at http://www.devonmuseums.net/Garments-for-the-Games/Latest-News/Fairlynch-Museum/Museum-News/

For information about the various sports clubs and activities in the Budleigh area click on the following:
Badminton  Email: andkath@gmail.com  or doreen@zfec.eclipse.co.uk
Croquet  http://www.budleighcroquet.co.uk/  (under construction)
Equestrianism  www.devonriding.co.uk

Club Secretaries of other locally based sports organisations who would like their details listed here are welcome to contact me at mr.downes@gmail.com

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