And George Carter - pictured above - local amateur archaeologist and father of the co-founder of our little museum had spent many years working in the sub-continent.
The novelist R.F. Delderfield (1912-72), a one-time local resident, enjoyed poking fun at Budleigh Salterton’s ex-pats from the Raj. In his autobiography, Nobody Shouted Author, he amusingly explains how our town’s popularity originated in the 19th century, referring to it by the invented name of Pebblecombe Regis.
A "battle-scarred colonel", so Delderfield would have us believe, was sipping his whiskey-peg in a Bangalore club a year or two after the Indian Mutiny. He was just about to give his attention to an article about a justifiable massacre of Sikhs in a month-old service periodical when his eye was caught by a letter from the preposterously named Major Bullington-Headrush CMB, writing from "The Stockade, Pebblecombe Regis.”
Firearms are making poltroons of us all, reads the Colonel, with what Delderfield describes as "a kindling eye." Let us accept the challenge of the hairy savage and trounce him with his own weapons! What has happened to the bowmen who cut up the French at Crecy and Agincourt!
And the Major ends with a question which fires his reader with the desire to meet and congratulate such a "dam' sensible feller." Where are the yews that supplied our bowstaves and for so long were a compulsory adornment of all our churchyards?
Delighted by this "challenging appeal for the reintroduction of the longbow into our national armoury" the Colonel straightway writes a letter to Pebblecombe Regis enquiring about vacant houses in the immediate neighbourhood, having decided that a Major with such admirable views would make an excellent neighbour when he retired in two months' time.
Few local homes, if any, can boast tiger skins nowadays. In the past they would have been part of the décor in many of the homes of Budleigh’s Anglo-Indians
According to Delderfield, the Colonel was soon followed by many of his friends and colleagues. "It wasn't so long after that one began to see masses of iron-bound trunks, together with bundles of rusty assegais, Afghan firelocks, snarling tigers' heads and tarnished Benares wares piled on the quays of Calcutta and Bombay, stuck all over with labels marked: 'Poona to Pebblecombe Regis', 'Quetta to Pebblecombe Regis', 'Cawnpore to Pebblecombe Regis', and so on, whilst Pebblecombe Regis itself began to take on the aspect it wore right up to the end of the Second World War."
"At any time between 1860 and 1945,” continues Delderfield’s account, “the High Street of Pebblecombe Regis could easily be mistaken for a European quarter of a garrison town. Anglo-Indians, with hard, blue eyes, fierce moustaches, and mahogany faces, literally rubbed shoulders round the fishmonger's slab, whilst their womenfolk, with that total disregard for eavesdropping characteristic among the wives and daughters of professional soldiers, exchanged bits of gossip across the main street, at the tops of their voices."
Portrait of Thomas Shapter in the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital
The real reason why Anglo-Indians settled in this part of East Devon was of course its wonderful weather. Budleigh Salterton was specifically mentioned in Thomas Shapter’s The Climate of the South of Devon : And Its Influence upon Health, with Short Accounts of Exeter, Torquay, Babbicombe, Teignmouth. An edition was published in 1862, the year in which Henry Carter returned to his home town.