Showing posts from December, 2018

Tracking Budleigh's past at Fairlynch Museum

Colin Yeats, left, and Leo Dolling with children from Budleigh’s St Peter’s School
Two former British Railways employees were kind enough to welcome nearly 30 children from St Peter’s CofE School during a visit to Fairlynch on 9 November 2017.

The KS 1 children, accompanied by teacher Elizabeth Stubbs and adult helpers, had been studying changes in transport as a class subject. The Museum's railway display in the Local History Room, with its many artefacts, saved when the branch line and station closed in 1967, proved to be an effective teaching aid for the children.

Naturally there was fun involved when they were allowed to wear the station master’s cap, and there was a rare chance for some to hold the ceremonial spade used by Lady Gertrude Rolle on 6 November 1895 to cut the first sod for the building of Budleigh Salterton Station. 

For Yettington’s Colin Yeats who had worked on the Budleigh branch line railway it was the second time that he had helped out in this way.  Another ex-r…

The Baptist Church in Budleigh Salterton 1843-2018

Having written a history of Fairlynch in 2017 I naturally volunteered a year later to review a similar publication which tells the story of the Baptist Church in our town.
The subjects are alike in many ways: both museum and church are attractive 19th century local landmarks. Being listed buildings they both present expensive headaches of maintenance; as institutions serving the local community both have had their ups and downs over the years. Baptist minister Revd. Graham Wise’s account of the church and its people is an enjoyably readable paperback which is a valuable addition to Budleigh's local history studies.
A history of the church was first published in 1983. This latest version provides an update for the 175th anniversary which it celebrated in 2018.

The original Temple Methodist Church, with Ash Villa (left) which was demolished to make room for the car parking area 
There have been Baptist Christians in Budleigh since the early 19th century, when they worshipped with Meth…

A limerick: Jack Rattenbury’s escape

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.
©  Michael Downes 2014
This painting by  Peter Goodhall (b.1957) is part of Fairlynch Museum’s art collection. It is entitled‘A Revenue Cutter Apprehends the Smuggler Jack Rattenbury off Budleigh Salterton.’

A fuller commentary on the work will be published in due course.
© the artist  Photo credit: Fairlynch Museum

Another 50 years of Imperial's Budleigh shows?

This year is the 50th anniversary of Imperial Productions performing shows in Budleigh Salterton.
Its name has gone through various changes over the years, but the gifted performers who’ve been entertaining Budleigh audiences for over half a century can all trace their roots back to London’s Imperial College.

One can get a bit lost amidst all the name changes: IC Dramatic Society, IC Operatic Society – or ICOS as it became in 1956; and then ICU Musical Theatre Society in 2003… but there was also Imperial Opera until 2007, when it finally became Imperial Productions. 

The company’s relationship with the town goes back a long way, states the website. 

 Since 1968, the Public Hall, pictured above, has been the permanent location for the annual summer tour. Indeed, this is now the only venue at which the company performs outside of London.

But why Budleigh?  No precise answer has emerged. ‘Our love of the place probably stemmed from ICOS,’ reads another online explanation.

The programme cove…

Defending the Ypres Salient: Sidney Alfred Demant 12 June 2015

This is a post which originally appeared on my Great War at Fairlynch blog, which you can find via Google. I found that Facebook did not like linking to the site because apparently the automatons believed that it contravened 'community guidelines'. ???!!!  Maybe there's some politically incorrect content that I've been oblivious to. Anyway I'm reposting here in the hope that Budleigh & Brewster will be acceptable. 

War memorials come in all shapes and sizes.
Not many people would associate this drain cover with the Great War. But whenever I see it as I walk down my garden path I think of Alfred and the son that he lost just a few years before he built our 1920s house on Exmouth Road in Budleigh Salterton.
Alfred Demant had moved from Highgate in London to live in the Budleigh area at some time after 1911. He and his wife Amelia Maude Louise had taken up residence in Ivy Cottage – now Yew Tree Cottage – next to the Baptist Chapel in Little Knowle.
Their sons Sidney …

From Bushey to Budleigh: The life and death of painter and illustrator Sir Hubert von Herkomer (1849-1914)

I wrote the following piece in 2014, and it first appeared at, hence my thoughts about the German-born Herkomer, split between love of his native Bavaria and his adopted country of England. 

Sir Hubert von Herkomer as caricatured by FG (Franz Goedecker) in Vanity Fair, Jan. 26, 1884. He died on 31 March 1914 while staying in Budleigh.
I’ve never been to Bushey, in Hertfordshire. Unlike the peaceful coastal town of Budleigh Salterton it seems to be very much a domitory place for commuters to London, with a population some five times bigger than ours.
But in the late 19th century it was “a sleepy, picturesque place” as one of its most famous former residents recalled. “It had no water laid on, and there was no sanitation except of the most primitive kind. The drinking-water was brought to the houses in buckets, for which the old people, who carried it round, charged a halfpenny a bucket. The one and only well from which they could obtain this drinking…