Monday, 27 October 2014

Budleigh's Mini Food Fest a big success

Talking of food, as I’ve done here it seems that quite a few Friends of Fairlynch Museum have been involved with the amazingly successful Food Festival.

More festivals means more visitors to the town, which means more visitors to its museum, which means... well, we’re just pleased to be able to show off Budleigh Salterton and the Lower Otter Valley.

I was asked recently if the Museum had any books of local fish recipes, and had to confess that I didn’t know of any.  But maybe, hiding in the Library is a handwritten cookbook, perhaps discovered long ago in the kitchen of Primrose Cottage, which was Fairlynch’s original name.  We certainly ought to have a first edition of the famous Book of Household Management written by Mrs Beeton, grandmother of a distinguished former Budleigh resident. Click here to read more.   

The first Budleigh Salterton Food and Drink Festival in 2013 was so popular that the organisers decided to stage a one-day taster event in the Public Hall on Saturday 25 October before the main three-day Budleigh Buy Local Food and Drink Festival. That will be held on the weekend of the 13-15 March next year.  
A lot of hard work has gone into the organisation of the event, with support from many local businesses.  Corporate Friends of Fairlynch who sponsor the Festival include Bradleys, Ian Crook Wealth Management Ltd, and Premier Cafe.  Other sponsors include John McMillan and Trudie Burne, who were involved in the Museum’s Great War deckchairs project.
It’s all proof of the Budleigh community working together on an enjoyable project which benefits everyone.

Here’s Fairlynch Museum Chairman Roger Sherriff wearing his Festival steward's t-shirt holding one of the prizes in the raffle which was part of the event.

Then of course there was me, persuaded to take some photos. And here they are:

 This was another raffle prize: a hamper of delicious goodies donated by McMillans Deli.

Many people had come for the cookery demos. Stuart White, Head Chef at Sidmouth’s Victoria Hotel, was one of the morning's guest chefs at the Festival. Here he's showing how to prepare Torbay Sole Samphire.

 I don't know what he's holding up but I'm sure it'll be delicious when he's finished with it.

Stuart was followed by Andy Witheridge, owner of The Salty Monk restaurant at Sidford, just outside Sidmouth. He demonstrated the making of cappelletti, working alongside Melissa Johnson, a Rotary Young Chef. She looks a bit nervous in this photo.

But she made a professional-looking job of this dish. I gave up eating lunch a month or so ago but by this stage was thinking of changing my mind. 

I didn't know about Rotary Young Chef competitions until I found information about them

Lots of other things were going on in the Public Hall, with exhibitors showing off local food. Like this lady from Pynes Farm shop, just outside Budleigh. 

Here she is selling from the range of Otter Vale Products like pickles, sauces, and chutneys all made here in Budleigh.

Other local stallholders inside the Public Hall included Karen from The Rowan Tree. 

It was a very family-friendly affair with lots of activities for kids.  Facepainting was popular. 

There were designs to please everyone. 

There were things to look at, like this gingerbread house.    

Or this Funky Apple Face.


As well as looking like an animal you could eat like an animal if you wanted to, with no one complaining.

And plenty of recipes for kids to try out. 

Kids also provided musical entertainment as well as entertainment for the photographer.  This is the Otter Music Collective, a group based at St Peter’s School.   

 If you felt like a pre-lunch drink there was plenty to choose from in the Public Hall.  There was a bar run by Isca Ales where free samples were on offer.


There were special Budleigh beers.

There was wine from the Roncombe Valley, near Sidmouth. 

 And of course there was cider. 

 She's obviously enjoying it.

 Bill Roper, from Ashcombe Estate Orchards, seen here pouring the precious liquid, was giving a talk ‘The Importance of Localism’ later in the afternoon.


 For those who felt like a healthy non-alcoholic option there were juices from Juice Plus.  Masses of them to choose from, with expert advice from Budleigh-based Body & Mind’s Paola Royal.   

Outside the Public Hall, there was plenty of choice for the hungry.  The Veggie Deli was popular.


It wasn't just local food on offer. There were pizzas from Sidmouth-based Pizza Buona   

Basque dishes from Goierri Foods

Lots of choice here. 

My friend Bernard, right, a Fairlynch steward, was tempted.  And so was I, especially when Maite Mendia from Goerri Foods told me how important it is to eat at midday. She insisted that I enjoy a complimentary lunch of paella and meatballs. Very good it was too.

If you just wanted to buy produce there was plenty to choose from at the Farmers' Market, which was on The Green just outside the Public Hall.


Plenty of time for a gossip over the greens.

Or a chat over the cheese.

Or just a good laugh with Councillor Tom Wright and his wife.

Then back into the Public Hall for another cookery demo by Olivier Guyard-Mulkerrin, from Les Saveurs restaurant in Exmouth.  

He enjoyed telling the audience about the virtues of dogfish.  Now, I've never eaten dogfish, and I'm not tempted to after reading what the British Seafishing website says about it here   "The dogfish is not particularly nice to eat and has little commercial value, although it was once highly sought after for its rough skin which was used to polish wood and as a replacement for pumice."

I found Olivier's facial expressions as entertaining as what he did to the dogfish.

Someone in the audience has obviously challenged what he's said.  

That knife looks pretty dangerous. 

He is French of course. Well, Breton. Which is very different. 

I'm sure his dogfish dishes are delicious. The restaurant gets very good reviews as you can see at    As indeed do The Victoria Hotel   and The Salty Monk

East Devon is a very good place in which to live. 

You can read about the Budleigh Salterton Food Festival at



Monday, 20 October 2014

Museum’s Spooky Cake and Produce Sale

It’s that time of the year again. On Friday 31 October, from 2.00 pm to 4.30 pm, Fairlynch volunteers will be using their spell-binding charms as they offer a range of ghostly goodies for sale to celebrate Halloween and raise funds for the museum.

Monster marshmallows, spectral sponges and petrifying preserves are just some of the creepy creations dreamt up by museum stewards and supporters, who will be dressed in suitably bewitching costumes.

There will also be what are described as ghoulish games in the museum garden, weather permitting.

If anyone would like to support us by contributing cakes, cookies, preserves etc, the museum will be open for deliveries from 10.00 am - 12 midday on the day, or collection can be arranged in advance by calling Chris on 07766 218940.

Fairlynch Museum is recording for its archives any reports of ghostly occurrences in the local area.  East Budleigh’s Salem Chapel and Tidwell House on the outskirts of Budleigh Salterton are just two of the places which some people believe to be haunted.  The poet Meg Peacocke, who revisited the town recently, recalled being told by artist Joyce Dennys about ghostly happenings in her home at Lion House, on Fore Street Hill.  The sound of footsteps made by a former resident, a retired sea captain, were regularly heard although he had died a century earlier.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Museum Friend’s Trust to support young musicians

Above: An anonymous portrait of the child Mozart, possibly by Pietro Antonio Lorenzoni, painted in 1763 on commission from Leopold Mozart when the boy was six years old

The chances of discovering a young musician prodigy like Mozart are pretty slim, but you never know...


Friend of Fairlynch Museum Roger Bowen, pictured here, is well known in Budleigh Salterton as a former town councillor, and as a founder, among other ventures, of the Budleigh Music Festival. 
Having retired as Festival Chairman he is now devoting his energies to helping young people in Devon discover music through the charitable trust which he chairs.

Set up in 2012, the Budleigh Music Education Trust is intended to benefit a range of young musicians rather than seeking out musical prodigies.  “We are not dedicated to the pursuit of excellence though we will gladly assist those with a special gift,” says Roger. “We will look at most levels of ability including those with disability. There is a huge range of talent out there and we believe this should be encouraged at whatever level possible.”

Providing musical instruments on loan, building up contacts with the county’s music teachers, and raising funds to sponsor an individual young person are all ways in which the Trust is hoping to provide what it describes as “that  priceless asset - a lifetime of music appreciation and performance.”

For more information about the Budleigh Music Education Trust, click here

Mapping old Budleigh Salterton

The Otter Valley Association’s recent launch of its scheme to list Local Heritage assets seems likely to heighten our awareness of how the area has changed - in many cases not for the better! Old maps of Budleigh Salterton and the surrounding villages provide a good way of appreciating such changes, thinks Fairlynch Museum Trustee Trevor Waddington.

Trevor, who is involved with the Local Heritage scheme, recommends the three Harry Lane maps of Budleigh published by the OVA. Dated 1842, 1890 and 1933, they are roughly A3 size and are available as a set for £20 via the OVA website at

“Interestingly, the 1842 map shown above depicts Primrose Cottage - now Fairlynch Museum - with what appears to be a glass-roofed veranda running the full width of the building,” notes Trevor.

Another item of interest on the 1842 map shows the original ‘Temple’ built by a retired London bookseller, James Lackington, and named after his London store in Finsbury Square. Known as 'The Temple of the Muses', it was one of the capital's tourist attractions.

James Lackington's Temple of the Muses in Finsbury Square, London
Image credit: Princeton University

Lackington, a devout Methodist, who moved from London to Budleigh Salterton, was so struck with what he called the "spiritual Destitution of the place" that in 1812 he built the Methodist 'Temple'. Demolished in 1905 it was replaced by the current Temple Methodist Church on Fore street.

James Lackington died in Budleigh 200 years ago next year. Some people would say that  like many of the town’s relatively little known but interesting and distinguished former residents he deserves to be honoured with a blue plaque.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Thirty years of lacemaking — Congratulations to Sue Morgan!


Fairlynch Museum volunteer Sue Morgan started making lace in 1984.  The Museum is most grateful for the lacemaking demonstrations that she has given on Friday afternoons during August and during half-term.  We asked her some questions.

What skills does one need? 
They say patience, but really the main thing is enjoyment. See how you get on. One visitor who came to watch said she would never be able to do it but when she started on a pillow here at the Museum she found that she could. Sometimes it just clicks. Concentration is important of course.

Are you a member of a lacemaker’s association?
Yes. The Lace Guild and also the International Bobbin and Needlace Organisation (OIDFA) which covers the world. There are still some countries where lace is produced on a commercial basis - Romania and Malta - to name a couple. But here in the UK, and in the USA, lacemaking is done for pleasure, as a hobby.

How have visitors responded to your lacemaking session when they see you at work?
They’re very interested and curious. Taken aback at first, and surprised that the craft is still alive. Devon is particularly active with many lacemaking centres and groups.

How did lacemakers feel about that wedding dress?
There was a surge of interest in lacemaking with both Kate Middleton’s wedding and Diana’s. Lace is so dominated by fashion. The Great Exhibition of 1851 was a high point — lace was seen as a form of art. At the end of the 19th century there were 230 lacemakers in East Budleigh alone.



Above: Lacemaker Sue Morgan demonstrates the finer points of her craft to Fairlynch Museum visitor Elizabeth Bloxham

Lower Otter Valley Local Heritage Assets Listing Project

From the Otter Valley Association has come an important announcement about a venture in which Fairlynch Museum has a role:

The OVA is embarking on an exciting new project, looking at our rich and diverse local heritage, and is seeking partners and volunteers to help with this work. 

The project was launched during Heritage Open Days (11 to 14 September 2014). Watch out for further details about  local events that we will be holding, and visit the Heritage Open Days website if you are interested in local heritage events.

We are working in partnership with Devon’s Historic Environment Team, East Devon District Council, the Fairlynch Museum and the Town and Parish Councils to identify and list heritage assets in the Lower Otter Valley.  This area covers Budleigh Salterton, and the parishes of East Budleigh, Otterton, Colaton Raleigh and Newton Poppleford.

The reason for listing heritage assets is because they are buildings, monuments, sites, places, areas or landscape identified as having a degree of significance meriting consideration in planning decisions because of their heritage interest. English Heritage is keen for local communities to identify assets that are important to the local distinctiveness of an area.   The Draft New East Devon Local Plan states that the Council will work with local communities to produce design statements and heritage asset assessments as part of the ongoing preparation for the built heritage and heritage conservation strategy. 

Heritage assets are not just historic or interesting buildings, but can be cultural landscapes associated with history, or relate to social history, such as traditions, practices, and artistic or literary associations.  They can include patterns of settlement, parks, gardens, village greens, and landmarks of community value, such as war memorials and interesting items of street furniture.

For instance, do you value the building in the photograph?  Should this be on the local heritage asset list?  We are sure that you have an opinion about this structure and we want you to nominate structures or features that you think are important locally.

The project aims to identify and assess structures and elements that are not designated nationally (listed buildings), such as the wealth of agricultural buildings, and the Arts and Crafts houses, together with well loved places.  The work may involve some research, as we would like to gather as much information about the asset as possible, or it could just involve a description,  photograph and location.  The assets will be assessed before going on the ‘local list’, which will then be used as a material consideration in planning decisions by the District Council.  Local listing does not place any extra planning burden on the owner of the asset.

The criteria for assessing the significance of local heritage assets is based on English Heritage’s advice in the Good Practice Guide for Local Heritage Asset Listing and is set out below:

It is based on English Heritage’s guidance on the criteria for the designation of statutorily listed buildings, but the focus is on their local rather than national importance.   The criteria relate to the local interest and significance.  Interest being the architecture, historic, artistic, rarity or age; and significance being the value of the asset aesthetically, to the community, or historic or social association or evidential.  If the heritage asset is identified as having at least one element of interest, then the determining factor would be to consider its significance in relation to its value to the community.

The OVA is looking for volunteers to help with this project, and training will be given. So if you value your heritage, enjoy carrying out a bit of research, or taking photographs, or just walking around the local area, we would love you to help us.  We will also be seeking to involve the community as much as possible, and invite them to nominate local heritage assets that are important to them.

We have placed details of the project on the various local websites, and are liaising with the parish councils so that we can get as many volunteers and nominations as possible.

Further details about this exciting project have been put on the OVA website at 

If you would like to find out more about the project and how you could get involved, please contact Nicola Daniels (01395 445960), Trevor Waddington (01395 443978) or Dee Woods (01395 568158).