Saturday, 23 August 2014

Many thanks, Colin


Thanks are due to Colin Wells, of Dawlish, who recently donated this six-page 1966 auction brochure to the Museum. He came across it in a box of local maps which he’d purchased, and thought that it would interest us as part of the history of the building. 

Our late President Priscilla Hull recalled how the house was bought “at a reasonable price” following a public appeal which was launched in 1967. “This realised about £3,500, so four interested people bought ‘Fairlynch’ between them, and leased it back to the Trustees of the Committee of Management.”  


Also shown here is a Great War photo of Brigadier Phillip Wheeler Bliss and his wife Monica on their wedding day, published in the Weekly Dispatch.  The couple lived at Fairlynch from 1949 to 1964. Brigadier Bliss had a distinguished military career, about which I will write in due course on my Great War blog.   

Maine exhibition at Topsham

Devon's Topsham celebrates its US link in the Entwhistle Room

Yes, as far as Friends of Fairlynch Mike and Margaret Wilson are concerned, ‘Celebrating Topsham Maine’ is probably the big exhibition at Topsham Museum. The Entwhistle Room is small, but Margaret, who has done the research, has managed to convey a massive amount of interesting information about the Devon port’s sister-town. All displayed on attractively designed panels.

I first met Mike and Margaret when we were involved with former Fairlynch Chairman Roger Kingwill a few years ago in designing the Budleigh museum’s ‘Survival!’ exhibition to mark the centenary of Scott’s last Antarctic trip. 

I knew nothing about Dr Murray Levick, the expedition's doctor and zoologist who had come to live near Budleigh, and not much more about Antarctica and Scott's ship, the Terra Nova. But I learnt a lot from Roger, Mike and Margaret about planning a museum exhibition. ‘Celebrating Topsham Maine’ is characterised by the same authoritative and well structured approach to the subject.

A scroll of greetings to the town of Topsham, Maine, USA, from the Topsham Community Association, the Topsham History Group, the Topsham Society and Topsham Museum

Topsham, in the State of Maine, USA, became a town in its own right only in 1764 and consisted then of only 12 uninhabited buildings. This year the town is celebrating 250 years of incorporation, and the displays trace its development from a small frontier town to today’s community of around 7,000 inhabitants.  

Pejepscot Paper Mill, Topsham, Maine (also known as Bowdoin Mill)
Image credit: Marc N. Belanger

A good insight is given into the way in which the fortunes of the American town stemmed from its importance in industries such as lumber, paper, fishing and furs, including ice. The unhappy side of its origins is not forgotten, with mention of the  way in which the indigenous peoples of the region suffered with the arrival of Europeans 400 years ago.

Conflicts broke out between these two civilisations who, as we read, could have been living on different planets. Many merchants among the settlers were eager to exploit the region’s riches. “These wily operators often extracted land from the unworldly Indians after plying them with alcohol and other devious ploys.”  

A visit to Topsham, just under ten miles from Budleigh Salterton, is always a pleasure, offering something new to admire or wonder about on each occasion, including those gabled merchants’ houses in the Strand.  


Attractively designed wall panels provide plenty of information 

I hadn’t realised that within half a century of John Cabot’s discovery of Newfoundland in 1497, European fisherman were crossing the Atlantic to exploit the great fishing banks and that Devon’s Topsham had the largest fishing fleet in England apart from London.

So, do call at our fine sister-museum when you next visit the town, and make sure you see ‘Celebrating Topsham Maine.’ The exhibition runs until 30 October. The Museum is open from 2.00 - 5.00 pm daily, except Tuesdays, but is open on Tuesdays during August. Admission is free. 

For more information, click on 

Budleigh in Books: Part 3

Click  here  to read my earlier post Budleigh in Books: Part 2 and  here  to read Budleigh in Books: Part 1

The English novelist Clare Morrall, born in Exeter in 1952, has lived mainly in Birmingham but has a strong attachment to East Devon.  Her mother lived in Lympstone, and she has been a frequent visitor to the area over the years.  

The Man Who Disappeared, published in 2010, is her fourth novel. It raises the issue of how well one can ever really know another person, using the device of an apparently happy marriage which suddenly falls apart when a secret is revealed. 

In the novel, Felix and Kate Kendall buy a house in Budleigh Salterton. He then disappears and is sought by police for money-laundering. The novel explores the impact of these events on his family.

It was, Clare Morrall was reported as saying, a real pleasure setting her latest book in the surroundings where she grew up. “I have always thought I would like to set something there because it is such a nice area and I love Budleigh Salterton, which is where the couple in the novel live."

The mouth of the River Mouth at Budleigh Salterton
Image credit: Barry Lewis

There are plenty of realistic touches, such as the mentions of Budleigh by name - no more ‘Pebbletons’ or ‘Pebblecombes’.  There’s even a recognisable description of part of the famous pebble beach, where one can watch the sea “flow into the Otter river, a deep current, guarded by a group of rocks at the entrance.” When Kate reaches the end of Budleigh beach she “gazes across the river at the cluster of pines opposite.” Out in the bay on the horizon she notices a tanker “almost motionless with distance, travelling across the world, passing Budleigh Salterton without acknowledgement.”  There is a mention of Sandy Bay with its cliffs and “rows of caravans stretched over distant fields.” Exmouth, Dawlish, Lympstone and Woodbury Common also find their place in the narrative.

There are fictional elements however. Budleigh Salterton is initially portrayed as somewhere special and idealised. Clare Morrall appreciates Budleigh for its special qualities, and these are emphasised to build up the picture of the ideal life before the domestic catastrophe.

The tranquillity of Budleigh beach is emphasised, for example.  During a family outing to Exmouth beach, before the move to Budleigh, Kate notices the comfortable sand, but the beach is busy with families and children “shrieking at the cold, shaking themselves like dogs.”  Her parents “recoiled from the random splashes, struggling to appear oblivious.” They live in Topsham of course, in a 17th century Dutch gabled house which has, incongruously, a large plate-glass window offering a spectacular view of the river Exe.  “We should have gone to Budleigh Salterton,” observes Felix, noting the unease of his in-laws. “They’re out of place here.” A few lines further on, he comments: “The air never feels as fresh here as it does at Budleigh.”

When they do move to Budleigh, it is to buy a home which turns out to be a dream property: an elegant home “Edwardian, white and draped with wisteria, looking out to sea from its position at the top of a cliff.”

A family walk along the River Otter after the move to this ideal home, in the good days before the crisis, inspires “a deep contentment” in Kate. “It was an exquisite moment that she would never lose, whatever might happen in the future.”

It’s almost a perfect world, hinted at with dramatic irony in this vision of the Otter: “The sky had been an intense, unbroken blue, stretching from horizon to horizon without a blemish. On the opposite side of the river, trees projected their image onto the water so perfectly that, if the world was turned upside down, no one would even know the reflection wasn’t the reality.”  The Man Who Disappeared is, after all, concerned with appearance and reality  in the central character’s relationship with her husband.

Clare Morrall seems genuine enough in her affectionate portrayal of the town. No longer is Budleigh the butt of the usual barbs by previous writers like Coward, Delderfield and others whom I looked at in earlier posts.  I did notice, however, the comment that “Nobody goes for walks in Budleigh at eight o’clock in the morning if they haven’t got a dog." And I found a comment in the same vein in an online review of the novel by a Jayne Charles. “Provided you can cope with the idea of international fraud being committed in Budleigh Salterton (quite a feat but I managed it), this is a fantastic read,” she writes.

Yet there is, so Clare Morrall would have us believe, a different side of Budleigh which Kate and her family will experience in their reduced circumstances brought about by Felix’s disappearance. They continue to live in the town, within reach of the beach. But the grandeur of the elegant Edwardian house has been replaced by a block of run-down flats. Two aunts visit. “Nineteen fifties, I’d say. Replacing the slums,” observes Aunt Beatrice. “But did they have slums in Budleigh Salterton?” questions Aunt Agnes, a thought that had crossed my own mind. 

Alarmingly, for those who treasure Budleigh’s cosy image, the plot turns melodramatic with its picture of juvenile street-gangs, car-theft and a final tense chase along the Exe marshes between Lympstone and Exmouth.

Away from novels, things are looking up for Budleigh in the world of books. First a literary festival which has developed from small beginnings into a highly successful and prestigious event. It’s been helped, of course, by the move to the town of a famous author who has since become its Patron.


Image credit: Joshua Irwandi

It was a dream fulfilled for Dame Hilary Mantel when she settled in the former Southlands Hotel on Marine Parade. The author of Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies had apparently discovered Budleigh at the age of 16, walking alone along the coast path from Exmouth where her parents had taken her on holiday. That magical view of the bay on a baking-hot day had touched her imagination. It looked - looks - like a Mediterranean town from above. She’d never seen a Mediterranean town, but knew what it should be like.



And now we have a crime thriller firmly set in the Budleigh area and written by children from the three primary schools. Published by Budfas Young Arts, Summer Storm is the first book in the Heroes of the Jurassic Coast series of adventure stories written by pupils of St Peter’s, Drakes and Otterton Primary Schools. 

The eye-catching murals created by students at Exmouth Community College to complement the publication of Summer Storm appeared at various sites in Budleigh. This one was painted on the sea-front

It’s very much a story on the lines of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five adventures as one of the main characters acknowledges early on, though this Budleigh-based story focuses on just two young adventurers: Caroline Booker, a pupil at St Peter’s School, Budleigh Salterton and her male school friend Eddie Carter. 

And of course there’s ‘Bud’ the dog, a reminder of the Famous Five’s Timmy. There’s a shipwreck, a criminal gang, a secret map identifying a hidden cave, an old Budleigh lady who turns out to be an MI5 agent,  a kidnapping and a happy ending. 

A dramatic seascape: near Brook Road

Enid Blyton gave us Georgina - a tomboy who prefered to be called George. Since then we’ve had the sexual revolution, and it’s confirmed in the way that Budleigh’s 21st century young writers portray Caroline Booker, a pupil at St Peter’s School, Budleigh Salterton. Eddie Carter, her male school friend, seems to be a bit of a whinger. Shivering with fear, he admits: ‘I’m scared.’ ‘Don’t be such a girl!’ said Caroline, who could be quite sharp.” 


Summer Storm scenes on the wall of Budleigh Salterton Library

There are plenty of other modern touches: the evil gang members drive around in a black 4X4 Mercedes and illegally monitor emergency radio frequencies, and there are mentions of pen drives and text messages.


However it’s the local colour which makes Summer Storm special for local readers. The list of characters with local names like Vanstone sets the action from the beginning firmly in Budleigh Salterton. Shops like Budleigh Wines and Premier Fish get a mention, as does the Gentlemen’s Club. There’s a den off the coast path, the sound of a Dartford Warbler allows our heroes to realise that they’ve been imprisoned on Woodbury Common and the Royal Marines make a triumphant appearance to save the day.

Cliff Road gets a make-over with this mural by Exmouth Community College students.

And more and more murals appeared in unexpected places to brighten up Budleigh: 

All had been created to illustrate moments in the book.

Summer Storm is, a foreword tells us, “a tale of heroes, of men and women, boys and girls who answered the call when danger threatened.”  It’s a thoroughly enjoyable yarn, especially for local readers. Maybe future books in the series will see heroes from the past stepping out from its pages.   

After all, the celebrated Victorian children’s author and historical novelist G.A. Henty had a daughter who lived in Budleigh Salterton.


Henty is noted unfortunately not just for that tremendous beard. He has been taken to task in modern times for his racist and jingoist views. But I have to admit that, as a naive boy reader, I rather enjoyed his novels 

Among Henty’s 100-plus titles I noted Saint Bartholomew's Eve: A Tale of the Huguenot Wars. This particular book reminded me that a 15-year-old Walter Raleigh, born in our own East Budleigh, was fighting in France during the 1570s with fellow-Protestants from Devon to defend Huguenots against their evil oppressors.  The novel, though I haven’t read it, is even today rated as a rattling good yarn according to the blurb promoting the audiobooks version.

Set in the days of the religious wars of Europe, St. Bartholomew’s Eve is the tale of the Huguenot’s desperate fight for freedom of worship in France,” writes the reviewer of an Audiobooks edition. “As the struggle intensifies the plot thickens, culminating in the dreadful Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Eve. Henty, ‘The Boy’s Own Storyteller’ weaves the life and adventures of Philip Fletcher and his cousin, Francois DeLaville, into the historical background with thrilling battles, sieges and escapes along the way (not to mention a fair damsel in distress!)”

Young Walter, according to the history books, had apparently followed his cousins Gawen and Henry Champernowne to France. Gawen had married Gabrielle de Montgomerie, the beautiful daughter of a Huguenot leader.

If you’re looking for a further Budleigh connection, you’ll find it here, in the 1852 painting by Sir John Everitt Millais, celebrated in our town for staying in The Octagon while he painted 'The Boyhood of Raleigh.'  This earlier painting, used on the Audiobook cover, is entitled 'A Huguenot, on St. Bartholomew's Day, Refusing to Shield Himself from Danger by Wearing the Roman Catholic Badge.'

Yes, today’s Heroes of the Jurassic Coast are not short of interesting real-life characters from the past to inspire them to further adventures.  

Monday, 11 August 2014

Ex-museum professionals join Fairlynch team: 2.Martyn Brown

“Fairlynch is one of the finest buildings in Budleigh, being distinguished by its thatched roof and cupola. It has the great benefit, for a museum, of being visible from the main street,” says Martyn Brown. “It’s ideal for its purpose.” 

Well, he should know, his whole career having been spent in the heritage sector.

A recent arrival in Budleigh, Martyn is no stranger to the West Country. Educated at Sherborne School, he read Geography at Cambridge and has a Degree in Fine Art from the University of Plymouth. Nine years followed in Glastonbury, where he was responsible for creating the Somerset Rural Life Museum as its first curator. He then spent three years as CEO of the Jersey Heritage Trust and Director of Museums on the island. For 23 years he was a senior manager with Oxfordshire County Council, responsible for management and leadership of museums and heritage services.

Martyn has always enjoyed hands-on museum experience. “I have curated numerous exhibitions – some of these I have initiated and created myself, others I have managed and coordinated with artists and craft workers.” 

His experience has included partnership projects with curators and artists in Germany, Portugal and Greece, where he managed a variety of events and educational programmes including conferences, seminars, workshops, demonstrations, music and theatre performances. Further foreign heritage experience has involved working as an advisor to teams in South Africa, St Lucia and Ukraine.

Martyn is keen to see further refurbishment at Fairlynch. “The new ‘Environment’/Priscilla Carter Room illustrates very well what can be done,” he enthuses. “Even in its unfinished state it represents a massive improvement – it is ‘a breath of fresh air.’ The interior architecture of the room is respected, the arched windows a strong feature. The displays complement the room and should do even more when the current cases are replaced.”

To find our team boosted by the arrival of such well-qualified trustees is really good news. Especially as they are retired local residents who think that their move to Budleigh was one of the best things that they’ve done. 



Ex-museum professionals join Fairlynch team: 1.Jenny Pride


Like many small provincial museums, Fairlynch operates successfully on a shoestring with help from volunteers. In recent years it’s introduced a number of positive measures, including free admission and all-weekend afternoon opening, while keeping its status as an accredited museum. 

Jenny Pride brings a wealth of transatlantic experience to Fairlynch, having been educated at a High School in Pennsylvania, USA, as well as at Badminton School in Bristol.  A seven-year stint in Canada involved work for two museums in British Columbia. 

Jenny started her career in museums at London’s V&A following a History of Art Degree from Manchester University. 

“I’ve had a variety of jobs in the heritage and arts sector”, she says. “Everything from marketing the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra to managing a 17th century historic house and 90-acre estate in Wales.   A highlight was hosting the Royal National Eisteddfod when we welcomed 140,000 visitors.” For seven years she was Marketing Manager for the London Borough of Croydon, where she helped to forge its first Economic Development Strategy.

Jenny is looking forward to ensuring that Fairlynch maintains high conservation standards, and is keen to use her strong curatorial and event management skills. She is also well qualified to welcome foreign visitors to Fairlynch, speaking Dutch, Italian, French and German.  

Inevitably, Fairlynch needs to meet 21st century challenges in terms of information gathering about its artefacts and documents, she believes. “Computerisation will help in the newly refurbished Priscilla Carter Room - it is also crucial for the Local History Records.”

A key factor in the Museum’s success has been the positive outlook of its volunteers. “It has a wonderful building and situation which make it a naturally attractive place to visit and explore,” she says. “Fairlynch should find itself a highly sought-after place to volunteer in, where contributing is both prestigious and rewarding, on all levels.”

Budleigh in Books: Part 2


[Click  to read Budleigh in Books Part 1 ]

One of Grainger’s many books, The Solutions of Radford Shone was published by Ward Lock in 1908   Image credit:

I reckon that Budleigh makes a good setting for crime thrillers. Plenty of Colonel Mustards - well, not so many nowadays, perhaps. Arsenic, maybe, and certainly masses of old lace in Fairlynch Museum. Lots of possibilities of suspicious drownings, riding accidents and falls from the cliffs. 

Francis Edward Grainger thought so anyway. The son of a clergyman, he had an army career before finding his vocation as an author and journalist.  He lived at various addresses in Budleigh Salterton, including ‘Almora’ at 33 Station Road, at Sherbrook Lodge and on Marine Parade. 

He died in Budleigh in 1927 at the age of 70 after writing more than 60 detective stories and romances using the pen name Headon Hill. They had titles like Clues From a Detective's Camera (1893) and Zambra the Detective (1894). His character Sebastian Zambra was a consulting detective similar to Sherlock Holmes who appeared in a number of short stories and novels. One of his books was The Cliff Path Mystery (1922) based on a suspicious fall from the cliff path just behind the house 'Broomleas' at the top of Victoria Place.   


Victor Clinton-Baddeley during a return visit to his former school, Sherborne, in Dorset
Image credit: The Shirburnian  

Among the many authors who’ve lived in Budleigh Salterton, V.C. Clinton-Baddeley stands out as someone who was not only born in the area but wrote about it, used it as a literary setting and found his last resting-place here.

The boys’ class of Park House School, Knowle, in around 1910. The young Clinton-Baddeley can be seen far right.   Image credit: Fairlynch Museum neg 1/C/3/24a

He was born on 30 May 1900 into a well-connected family possibly descended from General Sir Henry Clinton (1730-95) who served for a time as Commander-in-Chief of British forces during the American War of Independence. 


Clinton-Baddeley as a pupil at Sherborne School
Image credit: The Shirburnian

After reading History at Cambridge University, he made his debut as an author at the age of 25 with a book entitled simply Devon. The publishers, A. & C. Black Ltd, judged it fine enough to be illustrated by Sutton Palmer (1854-1933), a noted watercolour artist who specialised in idyllic rustic landscapes. A second edition appeared three years later in 1928. The book reveals the author's fascination with the region's history and landscape, including observations on witchcraft and local superstitions. 


Clinton-Baddeley's first book was devoted to the county he loved

The second chapter 'A Corner of the Country' is evidently inspired by his exploration of the countryside around Budleigh Salterton with its mention of Sir Walter Raleigh's birthplace at Hayes Barton. The final fifth chapter describes a 200-mile cycle trip that he made, starting in what he calls the "weird" marshlands of the Otter Valley, and ending at what is clearly his home town where he hears "the waves breaking on the beach below the sandstone cliffs." 


This photo from a 1937 edition of the Radio Times shows Clinton-Baddeley outside a studio where he had just finished giving a television reading from A.A. Milne. Unluckily for him the BBC fireman was patrolling the studio corridors just at that moment, enforcing the 'No-Smoking' rule   Image credit: Radio Times

Like his cousins Angela and Hermione, Clinton-Baddeley himself was deeply involved with the theatre in his lifetime, both as an actor and playwright, author of 15 plays, one screenplay and various pantomimes.  He also made his mark in broadcast media. He gave his first BBC performance - a prose reading - in 1928. Two years later, from January to April 1930, the first serial adaptation of any Dickens novel on radio was transmitted, when he read Great Expectations as a solo turn in sixteen instalments.

The book that he was apparently most proud of was The Burlesque Tradition in the English Theatre after 1660, published in 1952. This was a study of what the author called the “friendly humour” of theatrical burlesque as distinct from the “zeal of satire and the malice of satire.” Writers quoted included  Shakespeare, John Gay, Henry Fielding, Bernard Shaw, Max Beerbohm and Stephen Leacock.

No case for the Police was published in 1970.  By coincidence, two years earlier, the reviewer, Maurice Richardson, had written about his prep school and childhood memories of Budleigh Salterton in a book entitled Little Victims. Like Clinton-Baddeley he also lived for a time in Budleigh Salterton

Towards the end of his life Clinton-Baddeley took to composing crime fiction. It’s his detective novel No Case for the Police that really uses local colour to portray what we know to be Budleigh Salterton in a fictional setting.  Clinton Baddeley’s detective hero is called Dr Davie, an Oxford academic who enjoys solving puzzles. In No Case for the Police he goes back to the village of his youth to attend the funeral of one of his oldest friends.

The Rolle Arms in 1870   Image credit Fairlynch Museum

There are various name changes: Budleigh Salterton becomes Tidwell St Peter’s; The Rolle Arms - once one of the area’s grandest hotels but now sadly demolished and transformed into a block of flats - becomes The Ottery Arms.

Lady Ottery, in the novel, is therefore Lady Rolle. Here's Davie's and evidently Clinton-Baddeley's disparaging reference to the nearby settlement of Bicton:


The Stone Garden today in Bicton Park, composed, according to Clinton-Baddeley, of rocks removed from an East Devon neolithic circle. 

“‘It's a pity about the church,’ said Davie, pointing up the valley towards a village in a mist of trees. One of Lady Ottery's nineteenth-century outrages. The old gorgon pulled down a fourteenth-century church and put up that wholly improbable granite affair to the greater glory of Lady Ottery. I believe she also removed a neolithic circle from the moor to make a rockery in her garden.'”    See

The names may have been changed but the geographical setting is very clear. We have the same sardonic reference to Budleigh’s negative image in Clinton-Baddeley’s book that characterised R.F. Delderfield’s portrayal of Pebblecombe Regis. The two authors may have known each other; they certainly had a mutual acquaintance in Joyce Dennys.

Here is Dr Davie arriving by bus on the outskirts of his home town:

“First the pine woods, then the beech woods. And then, as the  road  levelled out  at  the  bottom  of  the  hill,  the  first houses, and  a  sign  which  bade  the  visitor 'Welcome  to Tidwell St Peter's'.

Davie  wondered  a  little about  that.  As  he  remembered the village, visitors had  never been in  the least welcome - except  to  those  who  catered  for  them.  Sixty  years  back, when the motor car had been a rarity and the aeroplane unknown, the place had been a jealously preserved haunt of retired  colonels  and   demoted   memsahibs,   who,   leaving behind  them  a  life of oriental  splendour,  of turbaned  servants,  elephants  who  raised  a  military  trunk  to  the  right people,  tiger  hunts,   polo,  tennis,  amateur  theatricals   at Simla,  had  somehow contrived in  more straitened  circumstances to live a  life of  dignity  among  the  pine  trees and rhododendrons,  still largely  concerned  beneath  softer skies with  the propulsion  of  balls, golf, tennis,  cricket and  croquet.  lndeed the  more whimsical ones, inspired  by legends of Drake, obtained  some  mastery  over  the  biassed wood. Tidwell St Peter's  is  still  a  place  of  retirement  for  the distinguished  old, and in varying  parts of the parish a variety of  balls still smack,  click, or  thud, over  or  into  the  net,  the marshes,  the  bunker,  the  gorse  and  the heather. But  backgrounds  are   different.  There are  fewer  memories  now  of Naini  Tal  and  Peshawar,  more  of  Manchester and  Golders Green.

And  now there  were houses and  gardens  on  both  sides of the  road, and presently  the  golf  links  on  the  right  and a pine  wood  on  the  left,  and  then the  road dipped down again for the final descent to the sea.”

The first lines of No Case for the Police describe the western approach to the town along Exmouth Road, with its "distant glimpses of the sea" and the railway bridge over the disused line "already overgrown" through the sandstone cutting. A few minutes later, the reader is told of "that turning to the left which led to Davie's old home" and which can only be Budleigh's Station Road, where the Clinton-Baddeley family home 'Wairoa' was situated. It's there, by Tidwell St Peter's village hall, that the bus comes to the end of its run, just as today's 357 service stops outside Budleigh's Public Hall before its return to Exmouth.

Across the road in the novel stood "the rival hall, the Gospel Hall, red brick,  unadorned, not a slate out of place, not a laurel leaf missing," exactly as the Evangelical Church stands today in Budleigh. Only in the last few years has its name been changed to 'The Church on the Green.'  

In a further clue to the heavy autobiographical element in No Case for the Police, as he stands gazing at the Gospel Hall the sound of its congregation reaches his ears through memories of more than half a century. "Dear God!" he reflects. "How those Bretheren used to sing!" 

"Long ago, as a prejudiced son of the Anglican church, Davie had thought them comical, those earnest voices yearning for the new Jerusalem. He did not think so now." Clinton-Baddeley, of course, was the son of a vicar.

The negative touches continue, I’m afraid: Tidwell St Peter’s is described as "an old-world resort", a place "full of people honourably retired from running the world and without the smallest intention of running anything more exhausting than the bridge club."

“Everyone lives to be a hundred and two here,” remarks Irene, one of his characters, “but most of them can’t move after the age of ninety.”  
Davie is shown “smiling to himself over ‘the older residents’ and their notorious prejudices.” We smile with him at all the little observations so familiar to us readers ‘in the know’ who love our little town with all its foibles. “If you knew people in Tidwell St Peter’s it was impossible to make your way without a constant repetition of ‘Morning,’ and ‘Another lovely day’ and all those other passwords which enable people to pass. The street was  abuzz with aimiable comments about the weather.” 

Other references to Budleigh Salterton abound, including a reference to the passing of the great days of mackerel fishing, worthy of a place in Fairlynch Museum’s archives for its vividness:

"When I was a boy,” recalls one of the local residents whom Davies meets, “the fisherman used to sit up here and watch the sea for the shoals, and suddenly one of them would cry out and point at a glittering in the water, and they'd all rush down to the beach and jump into a boat and row out in a circle, paying out a net. It would be quite close to shore." He goes on to remember how he with other children would help pull in the net. "And when the haul was landed we used to be given a fish for our services."  


Other little local touches include the chiming of the clock on the Methodist church, “Fore Street, where the brook so delightfully emerges from beneath the houses, and babbles along beside the street to the sea”,  the footpath to West Down beacon past the Chine and what is now Jubilee Field, stones from the beach used as door stops - though Davie frowns on the practice; even the naturist beach gets a mention.

It’s not too fanciful to identify a particular shrub described in No Case for the Police with the present-day specimen. As Davie heads towards Rose Cottage, described as "fifteen minutes' walk from the Ottery Arms, along the Exeter road and then down the hill on the right by the little common and the fir wood" he passes a garden on the right where there was an enormous rhododendron. "It had been there ever since Davie could remember. It was a deep rose colour and was always out a fortnight before any other rhododendron in Tidwell St Peter's."  And so it is today, blooming as vigorously and even more enormous, on the corner of West Hill and Meadow Road.

Sir John Everett Millais painted 'The Boyhood of Raleigh' during his stay in The Octagon, on Budleigh Salterton's sea-front in 1870

There’s an obvious reference to Millais’ painting 'The Boyhood of Raleigh' - famously set on the sea-front in Budleigh - but the Victorian artist is renamed by Clinton-Baddeley as Ambrose Faddle. A detail in Millais’ painting is seized on by the author to portray the drug-smuggling character Walter Ford in No Case for the Police

“In the manner of an earlier age, he actually wore little gold earrings in his ears," the narrator tells us. "If he had claimed to be the original sailor in Ambrose Faddle’s masterpiece the visitors would hardly have disbelieved him: and in fact his great-grandfather had been the very man.”  


Clinton-Baddeley’s use of local colour is truly intense in No Case for the Police. This Budleigh-born author may poke gentle fun at the town of his birth - much in the manner of his artist friend Joyce Dennys - but the intimacy of his brush strokes may owe much to nostalgia.


It’s ironic that this novel in which Clinton-Baddeley's hero Dr Davie comes back home appeared in the year of the author’s death, in 1970. 

It’s almost as if he knew that his own return was imminent. 

And indeed he’s buried in the family vault in the picturesque setting of East Budleigh churchyard.

To read Part 3 of Budleigh in Books, click here