Sunday, 3 June 2018

Raleigh 400 opens 28 May: 'Boyhood' tableau

Fairlynch Museum's Raleigh 400 exhibition was opened by the Lord Lieutenant of Devon David Fursdon at midday on Monday 28 May 2018.  

The afternoon saw a tableau re-enacting the creation of the ‘Boyhood’ painting at Budleigh’s Raleigh Wall, with volunteers in costume. Three pairs of children from local schools played the parts of young Walter Raleigh and his half-brother Humphrey Gilbert. There was even a Sir Walter on horseback, played by Budleigh Salterton Riding School’s Rob Batson.

305 photos were taken by Rob Coombe of Lyme Bay Photography. To make it a bit easier for those involved in the event to find their way through the photos, I have sorted them out under the following headings. If you want a hi-res version of particular photos, make a note of the number next to it and email me  Alternatively you could ask me for access to a folder on Dropbox.   

1. The stage
2. The props
3. The cast
3a Walter & Humph 1 (Frank & Henry), 2 (Katie & Isla), 3 (Ollie & Bailey)
3b The sailor (Nick Speare)
3c Millais (John Washington)
3d Lady Champernowne (Rosemary Griggs)
3e Bess, Lady Raleigh (Anthea Downes)
3f A court lady (Chris Fry)
3g Sir Walter Raleigh (Michael Downes)
3h Sir Walter Raleigh on horseback (Rob Batson)
3j Donut
4.The painting
5.The spectators
6. Fare thee well, from Budleigh beach 

So, off we go: 

1. The stage
This is as close as we could get to the place known in Budleigh Salterton as 'The Raleigh Wall' where Sir John Millais painted his celebrated 'The Boyhood of Raleigh' in 1870. Ideally the event should have taken place in front of the Wall, but we might have caused traffic problems. We are grateful to the Budleigh Salterton Club for allowing us to use its car park. 

2. The props
The usual brushes, paints and easel were supplied by artist John Washington, playing the role of Millais. But many other items were needed: a hat - green of course, adorned with pheasant feathers from a chance roadkill, a model ship from Fairlynch Museum's Smugglers' Cellar, an anchor and old chest, and a toy puffin which did the job of a toucan in the original painting. The pebbles were borrowed from the beach of course. We even found a starfish.

3. The cast:  3a Walter & Humphrey 1 (Frank & Henry)
Twins Frank and Henry were the first to volunteer. We hope that they have now learnt first-hand about Sir Walter Raleigh and his story and will be inspired to go adventuring. 

3. The cast: 3a Walter & Humphrey  2 (Katie & Isla)
Katie and her friend Isla decided to join the project at a late stage but clearly enjoyed their performance. 

3. The cast: 3a Walter & Humphrey  3 (Ollie & Bailey)
Ollie and Bailey were the last pair to appear in the tableau and are to be congratulated on staying to the end on what turned out to be a baking hot day.

3. The cast 3b The sailor (Nick Speare)
Nick is a former trustee of Fairlynch Museum, and is a keen artist, being a member of Budleigh Salterton Art Club. He now paints in acrylics and his first love - oils.  

3. The cast 3c Millais (John Washington)
As vice-chairman of Budleigh Salterton Art Club, John took a leading role in organising the tableau and clearly enjoyed playing the part of Sir John Everett Millais. Graduated from Wimbledon Art School in illustration and worked in design and advertising agencies in this country and abroad.  He graduated from Wimbledon Art School as an illustrator and was awarded an RSA bursary to travel and subsequently work abroad in Italy, Germany and Austria. He then returned to the UK to spend several years as an art director in London advertising agencies working on accounts as diverse as Cadburys, The Sunday Times, Jaeger, Mappin & Webb, Royal Sun Alliance and Toyota.  He has now retired to concentrate on his particular interest of portrait painting.

3. The cast    3d Lady Champernowne (Rosemary Griggs)
Rosemary is a retired senior civil servant now living in Devon. She regularly appears in costume as Katherine Champernowne, Sir Walter Raleigh's mother, and is an expert not only on the life and character of this well-connected lady but also on Tudor fashion. 

3. The cast  3e Bess, Lady Raleigh (Anthea Downes)
Thanks to biographer Anna Beer's 2004 study of Sir Walter's wife, once one of Queen Elizabeth I's ladies-in-waiting, we now know what a formidable character she was. She has been credited with rehabilitating Raleigh's reputation after his death, and had much success in restoring the family finances. 

3. The cast   3f A court lady (Chris Fry)
Chris Fry is a trustee of Fairlynch Museum. Her costume was supplied and re-worked by the Museum's Costume Department in the Linhay, next door to Fairlynch. 

3. The cast   3g Sir Walter Raleigh (Michael Downes)
My costume attracted much attention, which pleased me greatly. Sir Walter was known at Court for his colossal arrogance and was a mainstay of the English fashion industry of his time. My apparel was in fact made up largely of items from charity shops, including the rings on my bejewelled fingers. My pipe will no doubt one day find its way back to its usual place at the end of a curtain pole.  

3. The cast  3h Sir Walter Raleigh on horseback   
The nine pics here show Rob Batson of Budleigh Salterton Riding School 
on his good steed Donut.  Rob was riding along Budleigh's sea front to and from the Raleigh Wall, where Sir John Millais painted his celebrated 'Boyhood of Raleigh' in 1870. Period costume loaned by St Nicholas' Priory Exeter   

This is photo no.155. I forgot to put the number in. It's such a lovely photo that I'm going to post it on Fairlynch's Facebook page. 

3. The cast   3j Donut
Donut, ridden here by Rob Batson, is a veteran of Trooping the Colour, the London-based ceremony which dates back to the time of Charles II in the 17th Century when the Colours of a regiment were used as a rallying point in battle and were therefore trooped in front of the soldiers every day to make sure that every man could recognise those of his own regiment. 

The impressive display of pageantry is now held on the occasion of the Queen's Official Birthday. It takes place in June each year to celebrate the official Birthday of the Sovereign and is carried out by her personal troops, the Household Division, on Horse Guards Parade, with the Queen herself attending and taking the salute.

'Donut behaved really well and enjoyed her trip parading along the beach and high street,' said Rob of his afternoon as Sir Walter on horseback.  'It brought back her King's Troop Days!

4.The painting
A certain amount of artistic license was required in John Washington's version of 'The Boyhood of Raleigh' because of the location which needed to be away from traffic. So the green railings had to go. John's painting was much admired by all. 

5.The spectators
The sight and sound of Sir Walter Raleigh in full flow as he explained the importance of the event on 28 May drew a fair crowd of spectators, as did the sight of Millais at work and yet another Raleigh on horseback. You can spot the Mayor of Budleigh Salterton Cllr Tom Wright with his chain of office. 

6. Fare thee well, from Budleigh beach 
This was the curtain call by all members of the team in costume, asked to pose by photographer Rob Coombe, who did a great job on the day. The sea and pebbles make a dramatic backdrop. I think Sir Walt would have been proud of us. 


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