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Showing posts from March, 2013

Budleigh’s local historians

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The Feathers Hotel on Budleigh Salterton's High Street

FairlynchMuseum’s Local History Room is a favourite with our many visitors to Budleigh because of the enormous amount of information carefully gathered over the years by the Museum’s researchers. Details about local families, planning applications, the history of Budleigh’s schools, the railway... you can spend hours absorbed in learning fascinating facts about the town’s sewerage systems or the local gasworks.

There are of course plenty of local historians working outside the Museum. The Otter Valley Association reports that its OVApedia History section continues to grow, with 150 articles now published online. At http://www.ovapedia.org.uk/index.php?page=James-Wheaton-born-1808-and-his-two-wives---one-in-Newton-Poppleford-and-one-in-Australia-C19 you can find out about the Newton Poppleford man with two wives. Or, less sensationally in the OVApedia files, about the beekeeping former resident of Lee Ford in Knowle, just a mil…

Fairlynch Museum's 2013 Exhibitions

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Fairlynch Museum's 2013 exhibitions. Lots to see but ADMISSION IS FREE!

Jack Rattenbury lives!

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Above: Jack Rattenbury seen in East Budleigh's The Rolle Arms with, left, Fairlynch Museum Chairman Roger Sherriff

Several local people have reported that Jack Rattenbury was seen recently at the Rolle Arms in East Budleigh. Following investigations Fairlynch Museum Chairman Roger Sherriff has admitted that the infamous smuggler had been allowed a quiet last pint before transferring to his new home at the Museum to receive visitors in the Smugglers' Cellar.


For many years Rattenbury was the bane of Customs and Excise men. Although not a Budleigh man - he was actually born in Beer, East Devon, in 1778 - many of his illegal activities took place in this area. The above painting in the Smugglers’ Cellar at Fairlynch Museum records the moment on 29 January 1821 when he narrowly escaped being arrested a mile or so off Budleigh beach on his way back from France, having as he later admitted in his memoirs “a cargo of goods, consisting of one hundred kegs of spirits, and a bale of tea.”…

On loan from Exmouth’s most unusual gift shop

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There’s a whole range of stuff on show in Fairlynch’s 2013 exhibition ‘Sea, Salt and Sponges.’ Microscopes, fossils, antique pens, crystals, paintings and some weird Victorian medical equipment including a leech jar. Crystals? Yes, not just the Arabian frankincense crystals which intrigued the 19th century Budleigh scientist Henry Carter but some really beautiful mineral crystals which he mentions in his writings on the geology of India.  Like this intriguing  piece of scolecite from the hills of Poona.




Or this fine example of chalcedony.

Most of the items have been lent by kind friends of Fairlynch, but the crystals have come from an unusual shop not too far away. Prajna in Sanskrit means ‘wisdom’ and that’s the name of the business founded by Kevin Palmer 20 years ago.The shop on The Parade in Exmouth offers a full range of crystals and fossils including the weird and wonderful. From angels, buddhas, books and incense to jewellery, fairies, tarot and wicca. You’re as likely to hear…

The Art of War

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With the approaching centenary of World War One many museums, including Fairlynch,  will be dusting down their 1914-18 memorabilia and even thinking of acquiring items for exhibitions.


For those planning to mark the centenary whose budgets are limited there are plenty of replica packs such as the ones currently being marketed by the National Museums of Scotland. Its World War One memorabilia pack consists of replica documents including a Joining the Ranks booklet, a Patriotic Pledge card, a Kitchener postcard, an I.D. card, an Invasion leaflet, a Help to win the War leaflet and recruitment cards. 
Genuine material can still be picked up locally however. One of the items on offer at the Bicton Street Auction Rooms in Exmouth is a 1915 first edition of Some ‘Frightful’ War Pictures by the celebrated illustrator William Heath Robinson (1872-1944).

At this early stage in the war when the book was published and perhaps before the full horror of the trenches became apparent the illustration…

More Joyce Dennys paintings on display

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FairlynchMuseum’s 2013 exhibitions include some paintings by local artist Joyce Dennys which have not been on display to visitors for some time.

Born in Simla, India, in 1893, Isobel Dorothy Joyce Dennys came from a military family. Her father was a professional soldier in the Indian Army and came to live in Budleigh Salterton when he retired. From the age of 11 Joyce was brought up in the town with which she would have a long association. An artist, book illustrator, playwright and amateur actress she has also been described as a feminist author.
Above: Joyce Dennys as a child
With her conventional family background and as the wife of a respectable family doctor with a passion for horse riding she might have been considered as a representative of the stuffy conservatism ridiculed in the autobiographical writings of R.F. Delderfield, himself a one-time resident of the town.

In fact she shared with Delderfield and with Victor Clinton-Baddeley, another local author and her lifelong frien…