Showing posts from 2015

Local treasures of Bicton’s Countryside Museum

Continued from

Visiting other museums as I sometimes do I realise how cramped we are for space at Fairlynch, considering that our museum is supposed to ‘exhibit artefacts and information about the history and development of Budleigh Salterton and the Lower Otter Valley.’

That’s a largish area, extending as far as the village of Newton Poppleford, and with so many aspects. Off-hand, I can’t think of too many items at Fairlynch which are to do with farming or agriculture, which play an important role in our area.
Bicton’s Countryside Museum is bursting with such items. Not all of them are local. This Fordson tractor, built by the Ford Motor Company at Dearborn, in Michigan, USA, dates from 1917 and is probably one of the oldest in the country.  It came from Mitchelstown, in Co Cork, Ireland.
But there are many items given by local donors, which reflect the support given to the Bicton museum’…

Object of the Month: January 2016 – the Joyce Dennys Mural

Budleigh artist and writer Joyce Dennys (1893-1991) was to have been featured in an exhibition planned for 2016.
Sadly, due to unforeseen circumstances, that plan has had to be abandoned. However, Fairlynch’s Costume Room will feature a scene from Joyce Dennys’ play Worlds Apart when the Museum opens in March.
The mural that she painted is sometimes used as a background for costume exhibitions.
The idea of a special exhibition to showcase the achievements of the talented artist and author of such literary gems as Henrietta’s Waris something that the Museum will continue to bear in mind. Some of her paintings are on display at Fairlynch of course, and Budleigh Salterton Town Council has kindly consented to lend us others in its ownership.
The idea of an illustrated book about Joyce Dennys has also been discussed and this would certainly be a welcome project. There are still many of her paintings in private ownership about which the Museum would like to know more, and many people, friend…

Shakespeare and On the Buses?

This image that I posted on Fairlynch’s Facebook page got a fair bit of interest recently. Yes, ‘there is a connection’ I wrote, but I left it at that.

So here’s  a bit of what I’ve found during the research for my forthcoming booklet about Reg Varney which will accompany the 2016 exhibition ‘Our Little Clown’ at Fairlynch Museum. 

Yes, Reg did indeed play Shakespeare. Here he is as the clown or ‘wise fool’ Touchstone, a performance for which he won praise in a 1953 production of  As You Like It at the celebrated Mermaid Theatre. 

The 2015 Christmas Stewards' Social

For a small museum like Fairlynch, volunteers are vital and none more so than the stewards who give up their time to welcome visitors.  

It doesn't happen by magic. Sometimes there's a mini-crisis when a steward phones up to say that he or she is ill and a replacement has to be found. But generally things run pretty smoothly and some visitors find that our stewards are the best feature of the museum for their friendly and informative approach. 

So the trustees regularly organise a stewards' party and here are some pics from this year's Christmas social on Friday 11 December. 

It was a happy occasion and I even won a prize in the raffle.

A Reg Varney story you won't know

Young Reg Varney - a musician before he became an actor, and an artist, and a writer!  
The fascinating story of Reg Varney’s life – from East End to West End, and then from TV stardom to a quiet retirement in Budleigh Salterton – is only partly told in his autobiography The Little Clown
The book was supposed to have a sequel, but somehow that never happened, and the reader is left just as the star of The Rag Trade and On the Buses is called up to serve in World War Two.
So I find myself absorbed in completing the story of his life for visitors to Fairlynch Museum’s 2016 exhibition. It will be called Our Little Clown and will be published in the New Year.
Like many other well known names from the world of entertainment – Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe, Spike Milligan and Benny Hill – to name just a few, Reg Varney honed his skills as a comedian by entertaining the troops. 

A young Benny in 1947. He looks quite nice after all 

For a time in the post-war period, Benny Hill was his comedy pa…