Thursday, 10 May 2018

The Great Millais Mystery Murder

Whichever member of the Salterton Drama Club thought of this idea, in a year in which we both remember the death of Sir Walter Raleigh and celebrate the return to Budleigh’s Fairlynch Museum of Sir John Millais’ ‘Boyhood’ masterpiece, deserves congratulations.

This year’s Budleigh Salterton Gala Week, starting on Saturday 25 May, has as its theme ‘The Life and Times of Sir Walter Raleigh’ to remind us of the great Elizabethan explorer’s untimely demise 400 years ago.

Members of the Salterton Drama Club have dreamt up an original approach to the theme, using the historically recorded visit to Budleigh of a famous 19th century painter who had come to the town seeking to be inspired by an equally famous national figure.

Millais was indeed at the height of his fame when he came to Budleigh Salterton to paint ‘The Boyhood of Raleigh.’ A few years previously, an important two-volume life of Sir Walter had been published by the historian Edward Edwards. The second volume was particularly valuable, containing for the first time a complete edition of Raleigh's correspondence. 

Almost simultaneously, in 1868, the journalist James Augustus St. John had published his Life of Sir Walter Raleigh, based on researches in the archives at Madrid and elsewhere. 

And of course it was a time of the Great British Empire, and Raleigh was viewed as one its pioneering figures with his attempts to establish English-speaking colonies in the New World. 

The Salterton Drama Club, it appears, has discovered a fascinating story of events surrounding the painting of ‘The Boyhood of Raleigh’  - which sadly they admit is completely untrue. This year's Murder Mystery is based on this story. 

It’s not the first time that the painting has inspired a totally fictional plot. The author Victor Clinton Baddeley, brought up in Budleigh Salterton, used it in his 1970 novel No Case for the Police. You can read about that at

Millais, a self-portrait

In the 2018 Salterton Drama Club’s scenario it is the year 1870 and Salterton’s distinguished visitor Sir John Everett Millais is staying at the Octagon, painting the picture destined to become world famous. 

Another pipe smoker! Sir Walter would approve. Illustration of Sherlock Holmes by the artist Sidney Paget 

His stay coincides with that of two other celebrity visitors:  Mr Sherlock Holmes and his friend and chronicler Watson are taking a well earned holiday after solving an interesting case on Dartmoor.

They attend the Mayor’s annual dinner in aid of The Fishermen's Benevolent Society. The Mayor stands to give his welcoming address when a scream rings out....

‘You are invited to attend,’ say the Drama Club. ‘All are welcome, local fisherfolk, farmers, townspeople and gentry. Join us in the Public Hall for this fun packed event and help Holmes to solve the crime. The wearing of Victorian costume is encouraged – there are prizes for the best costumed lady and gent.’

Tickets at £20 include a delicious three course meal, and a licensed bar, themed. 

Tickets on sale NOW from Budleigh TIC 01395 445275

Saturday 2 June - Doors open 18:45


No comments:

Post a Comment

Raleigh the entrepreneur: some of today’s Sir Walters have the final frontier in their sights

Above: Sir Walter Raleigh - Dreaming Beyond the Medieval ©   Ronnie Heeps A dozen years ago, the Scottish artist ...