Sunday, 31 December 2017

Fairlynch Museum's Object of the Month: January 2018

 Click here to see the next Object of the Month 


Dr Thomas Nadauld Brushfield MD, FSA (1828-1910) – Budleigh Salterton’s Ralegh scholar


Inevitably, with the approach of Sir Walter’s 400th anniversary, the name of Dr Brushfield comes to the fore among Budleigh worthies of the past.
It was a Budleigh resident, Roger Bowen, who felt that Brushfield’s story ‘richly deserves to be told’, tackling the first-ever detailed biography of this celebrated 19th century specialist in mental illness.
As a pioneer in the treatment of lunacy, writes Roger, he had few equals. But like Ralegh he was a polymath, and as a bibliophile he was equally celebrated for his studies of Sir Walter’s life and literary works.

Roger’s book From Lunacy to Croquet: The Life and Times of Dr Thomas Nadauld Brushfield was published in 2013. And now, in 2018, Dr Brushfield is receiving a further honour with the installation of a blue plaque at his former home in Budleigh, the Grade II listed building known as The Cliff.

Dr Brushfield in later years

Thomas Nadauld Brushfield was born in London on 10 December 1828. He was a son of Thomas Brushfield, a City merchant, magistrate and Deputy Lieutenant of the Tower of London. Brushfield Street in the London district of Spitalfields was named in his honour in 1870. There was Huguenot ancestry in the family: Dr Brushfield’s grandfather, George Brushfield, had married Ann Nadauld, great-granddaughter of the sculptor Henri Nadauld.

Examples of Henri Nadauld’s work are at Chatsworth’s Conduit House, seen above, and Westminster Abbey.   

Dr Brushfield was educated at a private boarding school at Buckhurst Hill, Essex, before becoming a student at the London Hospital, where he obtained three gold medals and became Resident House Surgeon. He became member of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1850, graduating MD at St Andrews University in 1862.

A 19th century engraving of Chester County Lunatic Asylum

After serving as house surgeon at the London Hospital he joined Dr John Millar at Bethnal House Asylum, London. In 1852 Brushfield was appointed house surgeon to Chester County Lunatic Asylum, and was first resident medical superintendent from 1854 until 1865.

Brookwood Hospital, as the former Asylum became known, in 1900

In 1865 he was appointed medical superintendent of the then planned Surrey County Asylum at Brookwood, near Woking. The buildings were designed by architect Charles Henry Howell, the principal asylum architect in England and architect to the Lunacy Commissioners, but were planned in accordance with Brushfield’s suggestions, and later on he helped to design the Cottage Hospital there. The Brookwood Asylum, as it was originally known, was renamed Brookwood Hospital in 1919.

From its opening on 17 June 1867 until its closure in 1994, it was the leading mental hospital for the western half of Surrey, occupying a large site at Knaphill, near Brookwood. The hospital had a dairy farm, a cobbler's workshop, a large ballroom, and had its own fire brigade, gasworks and sewage farm. It employed the services of many local businesses.

Depiction of a fancy dress ball at Brookwood Asylum shown in The Illustrated London News, 1881.   
Image credit: http://wellcomeimages.

Brushfield was a pioneer of the non-restraint treatment of lunatics, and he sought to lighten the patients’ life in asylums by making the wards cheerful and by organising entertainments.  

‘Full of zeal in his work and with a remarkable capacity for organization and management’, as he was described in an obituary for the British Medical Journal, Brushfield introduced a new era in the treatment of the insane. ‘His kind and thoughtful solicitude for the welfare of his unfortunate patients caused him to promote schemes for their entertainment which have been adopted in every asylum since that time.’ 

He was, it seems, on every occasion, ready to take on the role of playwright, actor and stage manager in addition to that of medical superintendent.

He held the post at Brookwood post 16 years until 1882, when he was seriously assaulted by a patient, an incident which brought about his retirement to Budleigh Salterton.  

Why Budleigh? The town had been specially praised for its health-giving properties in Thomas Shapter’s 1862 book The Climate of the South of Devon, and Brushfield was perhaps aware of this following the Brookwood episode.
Eight years after his move to Devon, in 1890, he would describe Budleigh as ‘a favourite resort of many, who, during the summer months seek a quiet health inspiring change from the atmosphere of large towns, with the additional advantage in the eyes of some, that the precincts have not as yet been invaded by the locomotive.’
And in 1902 it was clear that he had not changed his mind when he claimed: ‘No seaside resort in the West of England is better suited for the recovery of the invalid, for the recreation of the casual visitor, or for prolonging the life of the resident.’

Hayes Barton, near East Budleigh: Ralegh's birthplace
But perhaps a more likely attraction, even given Brushfield’s state of health after the incident at Brookwood, is Budleigh’s proximity to Sir Walter Ralegh’s birthplace. Two biographies of the Elizabethan adventurer had been published in 1868: James Augustus St John’s Life had been based on researches in the archives at Madrid and elsewhere, while the librarian Edward Edwards’ two-volume work had included 159 of Sir Walter’s letters. 

And then, of course, there was Sir John Everett Millais’ celebrated painting ‘The Boyhood of Raleigh’ famously begun on Budleigh beach in 1870 and exhibited at the Royal Academy in London.
Shortly after his arrival in the town Brushfield joined the Devonshire Association (DA) and wrote a paper, ‘Notes on the Ralegh Family’, which he read at the DA meeting the following year. 

His bibliography of Ralegh  was published in book form in 1886 – with a 2nd edition in 1908; it first appeared serially in The Western Antiquary: or, Devon and Cornwall notebook. This began a series of papers, ‘Raleghana, research into Walter Ralegh’s life and literary work’, which were published in the DA’s Transactions between 1896 and 1907. ‘Ralegh Miscellanea’ – Parts I and II followed in 1909-10.

Brushfield was keen to explore in depth various aspects of Ralegh’s life. In 1909, at the DA meeting in Launceston, he stated that he had chosen a subject which should relate to Sir Walter’s links with the sister-county. ‘Although his name is more intimately connected with Devonshire, it has many claims to be included in any history of Cornwall,’ he explained, quoting Raleigh’s support as an MP for the tin miners. 

He went on to point out the anachronism in the celebrated Victorian painting by Seymour Lucas, entitled ‘Bowls on the Hoe’, which depicts both Drake and Ralegh at the moment that the Spanish Armada had been sighted. Sir Walter, noted Brushfield, was in fact at that moment ‘fully occupied in Cornwall in seeing the coast defences were in order’.

The ‘Farm of Wines' Indenture which boosted Ralegh's income 

Another extremely detailed paper contributed by Brushfield concerned Ralegh and the ‘Farm of Wines’ conferred on him in 1583 by Queen Elizabeth I as a mark of royal favour: this was a monopoly whereby every retailer of wines was required to take out a licence, for which a fee or annual rent was paid to Ralegh.

East Budleigh’s All Saints’ Church, where the Ralegh family worshipped and where Sir Walter’s father was churchwarden, was the subject of a series of papers published by Brushfield in the Transactions of the Devonshire Association between 1891 and 1894. He contributed other papers on similar themes to other journals.  

Brushfield was involved with a number of West Country associations. He was elected to the Council of the Devonshire Association in 1883, and was its President in 1893–4. His presidential address at the DA meeting in Torquay on Tuesday 25 July was titled ‘The literature of Devonshire up to the year 1640.’  He was also a founder-member of the Devon and Cornwall Society in 1904.

Lady Gertrude Rolle with wheelbarrow at the cutting of the first sod to build Budleigh's railway on 6 November 1895. The ceremonial spade used for the cutting is in Fairlynch Museum

Nearer home, he was present at the cutting of the first sod for the new Budleigh railway, having joined the Board of Directors. He was also a member of Budleigh Salterton Urban District Council and was active in establishing the Cottage Hospital, becoming Chairman of the Trustees for many years. He was also the 1907-9 President of Budleigh’s Croquet Club. And he was a well-known Freemason, having held the rank of Past Provincial Grand Senior Warden (P.P.G.S.W.) of Surrey.  

As at Brookwood Asylum, Brushfield entered into the spirit of the occasion by taking an active part in community events. In the report on a Jumble Sale to raise funds for the Budleigh Salterton and East Budleigh Cottage Garden Society on 12 November 1896 he was noted as taking a stall and contributing songs during the evening. On another occasion, when he had been unable to attend, a report noted: ‘Great disappointment was felt by many at the absence of Dr Brushfield, so long associated with, and always with great advantage, to theatricals of Salterton.’

The Cliff, on Cliff Road, Budleigh Salterton

Dr Brushfield’s Grade II-listed former home is one of the landmark buildings of Budleigh, though, amazingly, at one time it was threatened with demolition. The Cliff was built at some time between 1827 and 1834.

Fine stained glass is one of the features of the building 

In 1882, following his purchase of the house, he added a single storey Gothic style library wing to the north side; a little later a Swiss-chalet style pavilion was built on the south side. 

Yet more stained glass: a view from the road

Both were built by a Budleigh builder, Jacob Cowd, with woodwork by local carpenter, William Keslake; this included the many bookshelves, fitted all round the wall of the Library to house Brushfield’s 10,000 volumes.

Brushfield in his library. The desk used to belong to his neighbour opposite, the writer Thomas Adolphus Trollope, brother of the better known Anthony.

It was in this Library that Brushfield earned a further distinction. According to the British Medical Journal for December 1910 he was one of the oldest and most significant readers for the Oxford English Dictionary, to which he contributed upwards of 70,000 slips. 

The news of his death at the age of 81, when it came on 28 November 1910 after a short illness, was greeted with sadness not just in Budleigh but throughout Devon and beyond. ‘The world has lost a bright, useful man,’ noted the British Medical Journal

He left a widow, Hannah, together with three sons and three daughters. Two of the daughters married medical men. Two sons followed their father into the same profession: one of them, Thomas, became a noted physician in his own right, being the first to describe ‘Brushfield spots’ – often observed in newborn infants with Down syndrome in his 1924 MD thesis. 

Typically, a bookplate from one of Dr Brushfield’s books bears images of Ralegh's birthplace and of the great man himself; it also tells us how to spell his name

On his death, Dr Brushfield’s lantern slides went to the Exeter Public Library, with some of the major Ralegh items from his library. The rest of his library of about 10,000 volumes and manuscripts was dispersed after his death, being sold by auction in Exeter.

Dr Brushfield and his wife Hannah are buried in St Peter’s Burial Ground, Budleigh Salterton.  Block C, row 6.  

Roger Bowen’s book From Lunacy to Croquet is available via Amazon at

Publishing this tribute on New Year's Day seemed only right to me. People sometimes do question the workings of the British Honours system. However in Dr Brushfield's case I think that everyone would agree that he deserved at the very least an MBE - if such things had been around during his lifetime. 


Friday, 15 December 2017

50 Years Ago: ‘The Boyhood’ at Budleigh - Pt 3

'The Boyhood of Raleigh'

Continued from

As I’ve noted elsewhere, a small group of Budleigh people were making a massive effort in the late 1960s to bring Millais’ painting ‘The Boyhood of Raleigh’ back to the town. Some of the ways in which this was done were quite novel. Pun intended.

Budleigh-born author Victor Clinton-Baddeley. 

Image courtesy of The Shirburnian

It’s no coincidence that a detective story by the Budleigh-born author Victor Clinton-Baddeley which makes indirect reference to the painting was being written at around this time and was finally published in 1970, a century after ‘The Boyhood’ was exhibited in London.    

Clinton-Baddeley, brought up in Budleigh, was a childhood friend of Joyce Dennys, the Budleigh artist and author whose play ‘Sir Walter Raleigh’ I wrote about at

He spent much of his working life in London but had a had a deep attachment to this part of Devon, even though, like fellow-author R.F. Delderfield he rather enjoyed poking fun at its stuffier elements. He seems to have collaborated with Joyce Dennys in co-writing her first play, ‘The Cup that Cheers’, produced in 1927. In August 1939 he took part in a charity show ‘in aid of debt on the Public Hall’, acting in a sketch by Joyce Dennys called ‘Half Term’.

This hitherto unpublished framed cartoon looks very much like Joyce Dennys’ work,  accompanied by Victor Clinton-Baddeley’s ditty:

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 [sic]
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.

No Case for the Police, featuring the donnish amateur detective Dr Davie is set in a village called Tidwell St Peter’s, for which we should obviously read Budleigh Salterton. He makes a return visit to the place of his birth to stay at a hotel called The Ottery Arms – for this read The Rolle Hotel on Fore Street. The building has now been transformed into flats.    

If you still have doubts, read the following passage:

The Raleigh Wall with its ‘mushroom’ top end-piece

‘Davie turned to the left and wandered along the path towards the parade. Presently he reached the broad sea wall with the end-piece shaped like a mushroom. Children had run along the top of it these hundred years.

The blue plaque was added to the Wall by the Otter Valley Association in 1996

‘A famous wall it was, too, immortalized by Ambrose Faddle, A.R.A., in that endlessly popular picture ‘Sons of the Sea, in which four early Victorian fisher boys sit dangling provocative toes, listening to an old salt telling the story of Trafalgar. ‘Sons of the Sea’ had been exhibited at the Academy in 1880, but dates of that sort are not worth anyone’s verification, and several aged fishermen, but not as aged as that, were in the habit of claiming that they had been the original models. All of which was splendid nonsense. Yet anyone who knew the aboriginal families of Tidwell St Peter’s could easily trace likenesses. George Pengelly who worked at the garage was exactly like the long-faced boy on the left of p.9 Ambrose Faddle’s masterpiece. Likely indeed that the boy had been George’s grandfather.’ 

‘Sons of the Sea’ is evidently Clinton-Baddeley’s version of ‘Boyhood of Raleigh’. Millais was elected ARA - Associate of the Royal Academy - in 1853.

Smuggling is introduced as a theme early on in the novel, with the author’s reflection on the Reverend Ambrose Stapleton p.18 - ‘Splendid old Stapleton!’ as Clinton-Baddely calls him - the locally celebrated 19th century ‘smuggling vicar’ of All Saints’ Church in East Budleigh.  No Case for the Police puts smuggling in a 20th century context.

The character of a local fisherman, Walter Ford, bears a striking resemblance, according to Clinton-Baddeley, to a character in Ambrose Faddle’s ‘Sons of the Sea’. He is ‘small and dark’, looks like a pirate, and, the narrator tells us, ‘in the manner of an earlier age, he actually wore little gold earrings in his ears.’ It seems likely that this detail in Clinton-Baddeley’s novel is inspired directly by Millais’ portrayal of the old salt in ‘The Boyhood’.

‘If he had claimed to be the original sailor in Ambrose Faddle’s masterpiece the visitors would hardly have disbelieved him: and in fact his great-grandfather had been the very man,’ concludes Clinton-Baddeley’s narrator.  

Ford’s business partner in Tidwell St Peter’s is Ernest Stubbings, a man with a finger in every pie. Smuggling is indeed the background to the crime that Davie solves. But drugs, rather than the brandy associated with the Reverend Ambrose Stapleton, is what these 20th century smugglers are involved with. It turns out that ‘Stubbings was running the drugs as he ran everything else in Tidwell St Peter’s.’

We don’t know whether Victor Clinton-Baddeley came back to Budleigh Salterton to see the ‘Ambrose Faddle’ masterpiece at Fairlynch Museum. But he must have been amused and pleased to feel that he had contributed imaginatively to his Budleigh friends’ campaign to bring ‘The Boyhood’ back home.  

Sadly he died in 1970, at the early age of 70. He was buried in the family plot in All Saints’ Church graveyard in East Budleigh.

You can read more about Victor Clinton-Baddeley and the Budleigh Salterton setting for No Case for the Police at


Radical Ralegh

The point about Sir Walter Ralegh: historian Anna Beer with Millais’ celebrated 1870 painting at Fairlynch Museum.  Dr Beer’s visi...