Sunday, 20 September 2015

Of cups and plate Pt 2

Fairlynch Museum Trustee Michael Downes, left, with David Williams holding the replica chalice. In the background is the copy by Budleigh Salterton Venture Art Club of Millais' famous painting 'The Boyhood of Raleigh.' The Museum displayed the original painting on two occasions in the past

David Williams, Managing Director of Birmingham-based  pewterers  takes us through the design and manufacturing process involved in Fairlynch Museum’s replica of the All Saints Church chalice designed by Exeter goldsmith John Jones in the 1570s.

“Our approach to producing this chalice makes for an interesting story itself,” says David. “But making it was not easy. Because of the value of the chalice, we could only work from measurements and photos and were not able to make a mould directly from it. The measurements of the original were taken by Fairlynch Museum Chairman, Trevor Waddington, who was also involved in the project.”


"We arranged for the lid to be sculpted from photographs that were provided of the original.

The Tudor rose, on top, is separate; it was sculpted in milliput, a modelling material. Milliput is in fact the trade name for a cold setting, non shrinking, two-part epoxy putty.

The base and stem were sculpted in the same way, in milliput, again just from photos of the original.

The base is separate, with the stem just placed on top. Once these components had been sculpted, we could make rubber moulds. These were used to cast the parts centrifugally.

Once the base, stem, lid and top had been cast, we made a nylon chuck - again from artwork - and used that as the former on which to spin the body. Since we were not allowed to create a mould from the original, the chuck was made from measurements and photos of the original chalice.

The engraving on the original chalice was repeated four times around the chalice and joined up to make a wide band."

The final photograph shows the chalice now soldered together and polished.

“We are extremely proud as a company to be able to reproduce such a beautiful 16th century piece in pewter,” said David. “It makes you realise, as a craftsman, that these people 500 years ago really were the guardians of the craft.”

This post follows on from

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Fit Faces at Fairlynch 2: Miss Bannister's School

In the second of our Fit Faces series Fairlynch Museum invites you to try and identify some of the faces with missing names from our photo collection.

This time it's back to 1977, to Miss Bannister's School. 

Here are some of the names of pupils in the above photo:
Sitting (l-r): Rachel Anslow, Jane Briggs, Philippa Stowman, Miss Bannister, unknown, Belinda Clarke, unknown.
Standing (l-r): Unknown, unknown, unknown, unknown, unknown, Carl Clarke, Nicholas Matthews, Christopher Briggs.  

If you can help us out by giving us just one or two names, please email 

To read about the legendary Miss Bannister and her long teaching career in Budleigh Salterton click on

Monday, 14 September 2015

Becky's Christmas Angels take off!


Budleigh Salterton’s Fairlynch Museum  is proving to be an effective showcase for local artists.

When local ceramicist Becky Godwin-Coombs arranged for her hand-made wares to go on sale in the Museum’s newly opened craft shop she little dreamed of the good tidings that would result.

But a chance visit to Fairlynch from a buyer for the National Trust resulted in a contract to supply Christmas decorations to all NT properties in Devon. This has been expanded this year with National Trust offering these Angel Ceramics products centrally, so they are now available in more shops around the UK and on the NT Christmas web site.

Made from high-fired fine porcelain, Becky’s simple and elegant creations of angels, snowflakes, robins and many other seasonal ornaments make a beautiful addition for any tree.  

“The quality of porcelain can be seen when hanging the decorations in front of tree lights, where the translucent properties of the porcelain really shine through,” she says. “Each decoration comes in its own gift box, so they can be stored safely away until next year.”

The finishing touch: Becky at work in her studio   

These delightful decorations make great teacher’s gifts, for that Christmas dinner party gift, to jazz up that special present or just to give to someone knowing that you are supporting a local business.

You can find out more about Becky’s craft wares at  , email:  or call:  0845 901 1747

Monday, 7 September 2015

From WW1 to WI

To lighten the gloom of all my sad centenary blogging about battles come the celebrations this month marking 100 years of Women’s Institutes. No surprise to learn that the WI movement had its origins – in Britain at least – in the aim of encouraging women to become more involved in producing food during the First World War, as suggested by the above wartime poster.

So those grim years of the 1914-18 conflict saw a remarkable growth of the movement. The end of 1916 saw 40 WIs across the UK; by December 1919  there were a total of 1,405 branches.

Today, the WI nationally has over 212,000 members in just over 6,600 branches.  It is the largest voluntary women’s organisation in the UK.  

I hadn’t realised that the WI actually started in Canada as early as 1897, so this seems the right place for a second wartime poster published by the Canada Food Board

There’s a lot more that I hadn’t realised about Women’s Institutes. Betty Hebditch, secretary of East Budleigh with Bicton WI, is keen to tell us about the history of her branch, one of the oldest in Devon having started in 1919. It’s putting on an exhibition at the Salem Chapel in East Budleigh, from Friday 11 to Sunday 13 September.

A 1965 Group of the Clinton (Budleigh Salterton) Women's Institute taken in the back garden of Cramalt Lodge, the home of Fairlynch Museum President Joy Gawne

Betty just happens to be a volunteer at Fairlynch, so she’s been ideally placed to rummage through the museum archives and gather memorabilia and artefacts, including rarely seen photos.  The East Budleigh with Bicton WI branch is one of the last locally, the Clinton (Budleigh Salterton) branch having disbanded in 2005.

The first Budleigh Salterton WI met in the afternoon, the second  – Clinton WI – met in the evenings.  The afternoon one closed first and some members moved to Clinton WI.  When that closed in 2005 some members moved to East Budleigh with Bicton.

Budleigh Salterton WI Christmas Sale craft table, circa 1956.  Left to right: Betty Daniel, Elsie Webber, Ruth Roots, Cecil ‘Moppy’ Elgee.

Betty tells me that at least half the members of her branch live in Budleigh Salterton. Notable past members include thespian Vivienne Furze and former Otterton resident Clare Milne, daughter of Christopher Robin Milne and granddaughter of the author A.A. Milne. 

Among other good causes, Betty’s branch supports the Clare Milne charitable trust, set up in 2002 to use the funds from Clare's grandfather's books: grants of between £1,000 and £25,000 are available for disability projects in the South West. For details see

The Salem Chapel will be open during the three-day exhibition from noon until 4.00 pm. Entry by donation.


Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Living in the age of the cybersnap


Doing my bit for a museum in cyberspace

We used to be told that the computer would lead to a paperless society. I wish…!

Heading our Fairlynch Local History Group as I agreed to do some weeks ago, I now find extra paperwork in my mailbox at the museum. Some of this consists of green forms completed by visitors who seek information or indeed offer information which could help in updating our records.

The Museum has in the past provided photocopies of photographs requested by visitors who complete the form leaving their address a fee with a steward.

Noting that two of the recent forms included an email address I thought I’d save a bit of time and some trees by suggesting to the people concerned that they might prefer a photo – a jpeg or ‘cybersnap’ as I call it.

Hi Michael” came back the reply within a few minutes.  “That would be perfect. Thanks.  Best wishes  B. Sent from my iPad.”  A hour or so later, after some rummaging in the archives, job done!  Four decent-res snaps sent off to a delighted B who emails: “Thank you Michael.  I have them safely on my laptop and I can print them any size I like now.”  

Mrs A. was just as pleased when I sent her a picture she wanted: a digital version rather than a photocopy. “Thanks so much for going to the trouble of finding this photo and sending it on.  It is very interesting to see how the house was compared to how it looks now. I have a large format printer so I shall print this off and frame it.”

Technology’s great when it works.