Saturday, 4 July 2015

Not such a scary smuggler after all!

A Revenue Cutter apprehends the smuggler Jack Rattenbury off Budleigh Salterton.  Oil painting by Peter Goodhall

Fairlynch Museum’s Fun Day on Saturday 18 July will have Pirates and Smugglers as one of its themes.

Games, stalls, smugglers' stories, village stocks and cream teas will be among the attractions at the Budleigh Salterton museum.

Some visitors to the museum find the model of Jack Rattenbury in the spooky surroundings of the Smugglers’ Cellar a little bit scary, especially when they hear him recounting his stories. 

The early 19th century East Devon smuggler had many narrow escapes in his violent confrontations with customs officers. He was clearly a tough and wily character judging by his memoirs where he wrote about his exploits, including one incident which took place in Budleigh Bay.  

The scene was evoked in local artist Peter Goodhall's painting, specially commissioned and acquired by the Museum in 1983.

Here's my take on the incident, in verse as usual:

An East Devon smuggler called Jack
One evening came under attack.
But he proved himself wily
In behaving most slyly.
Of escaping he’d developed the knack.  

These children from Awliscombe Primary School were a bit nervous of him at first. It's true that his hands are unpleasantly clammy. After some reassurance they found that our Jack is harmless enough.

If the Fun Day’s smugglers and pirates prove to be too exciting you can just relax in the Museum garden with a Devon cream tea.

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