Our 2018 exhibitions include items of national interest in a year which marks both the centenary of the end of World War I and the 400th anniversary of the death of Sir Walter Raleigh.
‘Quilts and Textiles: Treasures from the Fairlynch Collection’ is being staged in our main Exhibition Room. The exhibition runs from 30 March, when the Museum opens, to 28 May. The quilts include many beautiful and rarely seen items from Fairlynch’s textile collection. The show has been organized by Betty Hebditch, who now heads the Museum’s Costume Department. An accomplished quilter herself, Betty has exhibited at many of the larger UK quilt shows. ‘Quilters are fanatics and I expect an exhibition of this kind to be very popular,’ she says. ‘People will travel a long way to see good quilts.’
Also opening our 2018 season in the adjacent Costume Room will be ‘100 Years of Devon Weddings’ (30 March – 28 October) which includes examples of rare wedding dresses and Honiton Lace. With support from the Textile Society and an award of £2,550, the Museum has conserved and mounted an exceptional rural silk wedding dress made in 1850 and a Honiton lace train and veil, worn by Lady Sidmouth at her wedding in 1913.
The formality and ritual of Victorian society is no better reflected than in the complexity of a typical lady’s costume and the fact that, on occasion, the top end of seven kilos of skirts and underskirts required carrying and when necessary supporting. And then came the velocipede, and the vital necessity to hitch those skirts well clear of pedals and brakes. The Victorians’ ingenious answer to the problem was the skirt lifter. You might think that a simple safety pin would suffice but you would be wrong: Scissor, Tong, Suspender, Screw Top, Spring Clip, Ball and Ring, Grappler, Edith and Penny Farthing, to name but a few, are all varieties of this extraordinary collectable. Carole Walker, a member of Fairlynch Museum’s Local History Group has put together a display of these curious items. Her book A History and Guide to collecting Ladies’ Antique Skirt Lifters is on sale in the Museum shop and available from Amazon.
To mark 100 years since the end of the Great War a Local History display will feature the Red Cross hospitals in the area. Bicton House, a few miles east of Budleigh, was the home of the Clinton family. In 1914, like so many country houses during the Great War, it became a VAD military hospital and for four years provided care for sixty wounded soldiers. In Budleigh Salterton itself there were hospitals for the war wounded. One of the town’s well known residents was artist and author Joyce Dennys, who designed this celebrated VAD recruitment poster. In 1915 she was commissioned to draw the pictures for Our Hospital ABC with verses by Hampden Gordon and M.C. Tindall, published in the following year. This rare book has been recently reprinted in a limited number of copies.
Also in the Local History Room is a display marking the centenary of the birth of Budleigh children’s author Jean Blathwayt, prominent in the local Brownies organization. Many of her 15 books have Brownies as a theme and use an East Devon setting. The photo shows this much loved Budleigh resident when she was presented with a quilt on her retirement.
From 28 May until 31 August in our Exhibition Room, ‘Raleigh 400’ will be our tribute to East Devon’s greatest historical figure. A highlight will be the original painting ‘The Boyhood of Raleigh’ by the celebrated Pre-Raphaelite artist Sir John Everett Millais, on loan to Fairlynch from the Tate Britain collection for the third time in 50 years. We will also be exhibiting a second work by Millais entitled ‘The Boyhood – a study of the child’. On loan from a private collection it is of special interest as it shows the artist’s son Everett. This will be the first time that the paintings have been shown together. Alongside the paintings in the Exhibition Room will be various items from Raleigh’s period. One of the stars of the show will be a pair of 1590s kid leather beautifully embroidered gloves. It is thought that they may have been Sir Walter’s. All these items are on loan from a variety of sources including the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery, Tuckers Hall and St Nicholas’ Priory in Exeter, Dents (Warminster) and a display of Elizabethan coinage from a private collection.