Showing posts from July, 2013

Musings at the Museum

Sixty children from Awliscombe C of E Primary School came to visit Fairlynch to celebrate the end of term.

They met Jack Rattenbury in the Smugglers’ Cellar. 

“Is he dead?” they asked, feeling his cold and clammy fingers.

Do they mean the 19th century smuggler or the eerily lifelike figure with piercing brown eyes and computer-generated voice?

Who knows what kids think? Do they want to be reassured? Do they suspect there are more Jack Rattenburys out there in LymeBay?

Is she nervous of him, or a bit uncertain of the photographer? 

After some explanation they thought that he was probably ok. Dangerous though. A smuggler. “Yes, he did escape from the police. Yes, he probably was violent.” 

Sir Walter Raleigh was not so frightening. “Or could that be the man on the bonfire? A penny for the guy, a penny for my thoughts. Were those barrels of gunpowder in the Smugglers’ Cellar?Was there a candle to light him to bed, and then a big chopper to chop off his head?” 

“But I liked the other storie…

More on East Budleigh’s ‘smuggling vicar’

Above: East Budleigh’s All Saints Church where Ambrose Stapleton was the vicar for 58 years until 1852

Mention of Budleigh’s smuggling past in a previous post at one of my readers of further stories about Ambrose Stapleton.
Former resident of the town Meg Peacocke wrote to tell me of how East Budleigh’s celebrated ‘smuggling vicar’ featured in a local amateur dramatics production during World War Two.In around 1940 her father the children’s author Rodney Bennett started or took over a drama society in East Budleigh. Participants were keen, she writes, but he soon discovered that their performances based on a written script were wooden.He therefore experimented with improvisation based on local material, so that actors might speak more freely and in their own idiom - “an early Mike Leigh?” wonders Meg.
One story which the group developed concerned Ambrose Stapleton and his smuggling activities that t…

Devonshire Association comes to Budleigh

Time for a coffee and biscuits on arrival for the Devonshire Association visitors, greeted by Friend of Fairlynch Hazel Harland, right. FairlynchMuseum hosted a visit by members of the Devonshire Association’s East Devon branch on Thursday 11 July.
Among its many activities the Association regularly organises all-day excursions to the county’s towns to give members an insight into the history and particular features of a community. This was the first organised visit by DA members to Budleigh Salterton. St Peter’s Church and the long-established Croquet Club as well as the Museum were included on the itinerary.

The visitors were shown various areas of the Museum by volunteers Iris Ansell, Sue Morgan and Margaret Williams.  Museum Secretary Michael Downes told them something of the life and career of Henry Carter FRS, the Victorian physician, geologist and marine sponge expert who himself was a member of the Devonshire Association, though only briefly.

The impressive display in the Costu…

Don’t forget Fairlynch Museum when you visit Britain!

VisitBritain is the national tourism agency, responsible for marketing Britain worldwide and developing Britain’s visitor economy, I read on its website at
A non-departmental public body, funded by the Department for Culture, Media & Sport, it works with partners in the UK and overseas to ensure that Britain is marketed in an inspirational and relevant way around the world.
So I was naturally curious about a glaring omission on VisitBritain’s Jurassic coast itinerary at
Exmouth and SidmouthMuseums are mentioned, but no FairlynchMuseum! Actually, the website as it stands seems likely to encourage visitors to give Budleigh Salterton a miss altogether. The two attractions listed for our town are the World of Country Life and BictonParkBotanical Gardens, neither of which are exactly in Budleigh Salterton itself.
That got me thinking about the way in which Budleigh Salterton must surely have b…

Talking of memories at the Museum... across The Pond

Above: Greg O'Brien opens the door to his Brewster office, where he is surrounded by memories from his long career.Cape Cod Times/Ron Schloerb
It was not so long ago that Budleigh Salterton learnt of plans to make Fairlynch a dementia-friendly museum. This followed an initiative by the town’s Medical Centre and home care provider Home Instead which aims to make people more aware of dementia as an illness.
Most of us associate it with the elderly, but although dementiamainly affects older people, it is nota normal part of ageing. From our sister-town of Brewster in Cape Cod comes a sad reminder that dementia can strike anyone at any age.
The following article by Cynthia McCormick appeared in the Cape Cod Times on 25 June. It is based on Brewster resident Greg O’Brien’s brave account of his battle with the illness.
O'Brien, 63, a political communications strategist, is the former editor and publisher of the CapeCodder. He is writing a book about his own diagnosis of early-onse…

A first for blooming Fairlynch

Margaret Burton, left, and Josie Ogg from Winteringham, near Scunthorpe, were staying in Sidmouth on holiday and had come to Budleigh for the afternoon by coach. Fairlynch, they said, was "a lovely little place."

FairlynchMuseum's gardeners are congratulating themselves on being awarded a 1st prize in this year's Budleigh in Bloom competition. The Museum's Ann Hurt, Lynn Weeks and Sylvia Merkel were delighted to learn that they had gained top spot in the 'community gardens' category winning a £25 voucher donated by local garden centre Kings Gardening and Leisure. 
The competition’s judges, including Janice Hindley, Senior Horticultural Lecturer at BictonCollege, were impressed by the garden’s mature planting in its mixed herbaceous lay-out and its neat and tidy appearance. Certain specimens such as the tree lupin attracted particular comment.
The Museum’s garden is distinctive for having been planned with the idea of showing off plants contemporaneous wit…

Museum made an ideal centenary classroom

Thirty children from St Peter’s School, Budleigh Salterton, came to FairlynchMuseum on 19 June to see how life had changed over the last 100 years.

The school has been celebrating its centenary during 2013 and pupils from Year 4 were investigating in small groups how and why changes have taken place in areas as diverse as fashion, transport and employment.

They came with clipboards and lots of enthusiasm.

Lace-making was an important local industry and the children enjoyed learning about the different types of lace.

In the Costume Room they were interested to meet Phoenix, the rocking-horse presented to Fairlynch Museum after a fire broke out at his former home in St Peter's School.

In the Local History Room the children learnt about the Museum's archive collection of documents relating to so many aspects of life in Budleigh Salterton and the Lower Otter Valley over the centuries.

There was much to see in the Environment Room.

Especially the collection of pebbles and f…