Preserving Salterton’s decencies

Thinking of Budleigh Salterton’s nursery school playmates Belinda Lee and Sir Richard Rodney Bennett as I did recently at, I was reminded of another pair of school chums in the local area from many years ago.

Budleigh artist and author Joyce Dennys and her life-long friend, the writer Victor Clinton-Baddeley, both attended Park House School in Knowle although she was some six years older. Known locally as Martineau’s, the school’s results seem to have been uneven. 

“This seat of learning occupied a pleasant country house with a big garden,” recalls Joyce Dennys. “I was there for a year, was perfectly happy and learnt absolutely nothing.”

But as she admits in her autobiography And then there was One, the headmaster – ‘Sir’, as she calls him – must have been a good teacher: Clinton, she tells us, went on to get a double first from Cambridge.  

Indeed, Eustace David Martineau was himself a Cambridge University graduate who ran Park House as a prep school from 1902.

Later in life, Dennys and Clinton-Baddeley collaborated on theatrical projects in Budleigh, as I mention at

And recently I was shown a further proof of their partnership in the above characteristically light-hearted poem by Clinton-Baddeley. It’s accompanied by drawings typical of Dennys’ style, though no artist’s signature is evident.  

Here's the poem in case you can't make it out from the picture:

The tide of Good Breeding
Is always receding -
A peril that makes us un-nerved -
And lest summer's effulgence 
Should lead to indulgence
The decencies MUST be preserved. 
There's a right ettiquette 
In the way one gets wet - 
And there's one view we all of us share - 
If the Ladies bathe HERE
It's abundantly clear
That the Gentlemen bathe OVER THERE,
The Gentlemen bathe over there.


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