Monday, 9 July 2018

Roses for Raleigh, at last!

Fairlynch Museum's volunteer gardeners Ann Hurt, left, and Odile Cook, with the two 'Sir Walter Raleigh' roses donated by Budleigh in Bloom

‘A strong growing plant that produces thick bushy growth with clusters of large double warm pink to lilac blooms that are compact and double.’  So reads a description that I found online of the ‘Sir Walter Raleigh’ rose. ‘The blooms have a strong fragrance and are suitable for picking and have an old heritage rose charm.’

It sounded wonderful. In this special 400th anniversary year I was all prepared to fill my garden with such wonderful plants.

Elsewhere, on a gardening forum site I read: ‘Sir Walter Raleigh is very thorny’ – well, I know lots of people found him difficult – ‘but in my opinion one of the most stunning and fragrant roses I have, and he repeats well.’   

I was all the more convinced when I saw that this particular rose had been bred by the award-winning British firm of David Austin Roses. Surely, I thought, in Sir Walter’s 400th special year, the firm would have been breeding extra stocks to honour a Great British Hero.

How wrong I was!

Magnificent blooms of the 'Sir Walter Raleigh' rose. But the 400th anniversary had been forgotten

I was pretty shocked when David Austin’s advertising manager, Paul Constantine told me: ‘Regrettably the Sir Walter Raleigh rose is discontinued and I am afraid cannot be revived.’ He did email me a nice photo, but that was small consolation.

All was not lost however. The clever people of Budleigh in Bloom managed finally to track down a couple of ‘Sir Walter Raleigh’ roses and were kind enough to donate them to Fairlynch Museum’s garden.

Actually I think that Raleigh would have been quite philosophical about this.

He did after all write these lines in his poem ‘The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd’:

‘Thy gownsthy shoesthy beds of roses, 
Thy cap, thy kirtle, and thy posies
Soon break, soon wither, soon forgotten –
In folly ripe, in reason rotten.’ 


A beacon of learning

Sir Walter with some of the young scholars at Exmouth's The Beacon, Church of England VA Primary School

‘Tis truly apt that the Museum of Fairlynch in the fair town of Budleigh Salterton doth share the same emblem as that place of learning in the fair town of Exmouth, known as the Beacon School. For verily a beacon doth stand for light amidst the darkness of ignorance and foolishness that we see in the world today.

The Raleigh board game is part of the Teachers' Pack, available free of charge to schools thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund

And thus it was that Dame Lizzie, continuing to labour most fruitfully for the Museum, did arrange our visit on the sixth day of July past where we did address all the assembled scholars of the Beacon School.  

The good lady hath devised these rules of the making of a board game which doth illustrate the ups and downs of our eventful life; such a board game might be the celebrated and commonly played Snakes and Ladders.   

The pub sign at the Sir Walter Raleigh, East Budleigh

For verily there were a multitude of ladders in our life which led us upwards. We quoted the example of the cloak that we laid over the famous puddle, such that our Sovereign Lady Elizabeth did walk dry shod. And thus it was that we were rewarded not merely with a dazzling smile from her sweet lips but with the highest offices at Court and in the fair land of England! 

Ye see here the famous event on the sign of the fine alehouse named in our honour in the fair village of East Budleigh.

But was the story true, we asked the young scholars. Some of them did most cleverly doubt such a story, and we did confess that ‘twas an ingenious invention. But a good story notwithstanding!

Elizabeth I by Exeter artist Nicholas Hilliard
From the collection of the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool

As for the other, we did verily discover that the Court – like all Courts – was a nest of duplicitous and evil snakes.  We did explain one notable event which did lead us downward. For, as we explained, ‘I fell in love!’ And the young scholars did sigh most sympathetically on hearing this word.

Yet, was this our great undoing. For our Sovereign Lady Elizabeth, beautiful though she was, was what may be called in common parlance ‘a control freak’.  And she was mightily displeased that we had wed in secret our beloved Bess, who was one of her ladies-in-waiting.

And thus it was, as we explained to the young scholars, that Queen Elizabeth did command that we both be committed to the Tower of London.

Yet another ladder did we mention: namely our discovery of asphalt in the Pitch Lake on the Island of Trinidad, which hath allowed peoples of the world to travel in comfort on smooth roads. 

We told the young scholars of the honour bestowed on us by the Post Office of Trinidad and Tobago in designing this postage stamp.  More worthy of memory, we feel, than the ‘spuds and ciggies’ that the vulgar multitude do too easily associate with our name.

At the re-enactment of Millais' 'The Boyhood of Raleigh' on Budleigh beach, 28 May 2018
Photo by Rob Coombe for Matt Austin Images

To such discoveries, we pointed out, may be added our achievements such as the creation of the Great Republic of the United States of America. A long ladder indeed!

For true it is that our colony of Roanoke did lead to furtherance of English speaking in the New World. And we are told that our great book The Historie of the World did inspire the founding fathers of the American nation to reject the rule of tyrant kings.

But such knowledge was perchance a trifle advanced for our young scholars.  

Dame Lizzie did then invite us to give out certificates to the worthy young scholars who had achieved great things in the science of such areas as mathematics and swimming – both being most useful to young explorers. Indeed did we commend to all that they strive to be polymaths – like our good self!

Photo: Lizzie Mee

Later, we did address a small group of scholars to impart further words of wisdom. They did seem verily curious as to the quantity of pearls sewn on our doublet: we did explain the symbolism of such pearls to be found in portraits of our Sovereign Lady Elizabeth.

Photo: Lizzie Mee

Likewise did we show the pearls on the rings which adorn our bejewelled hands.

One young scholar proudly declared she had seen our portrait in the church of All Saints in our village of East Budleigh and had even sat in my pew. 

(This portrait, of course, is used on the label of the excellent Raleigh 400 ale brewed in our name, but we did not mention that to the young scholars). 

We did recommend that they visit the Museum of Fairlynch, there to see our famous portrait of ‘The Boyhood’ as created by Sir John Millais.

In this chromolithograph credited to the New England Chromo. Lith. Company, around 1870, Pocahontas saves the life of John Smith 

And a strange footnote to all this. For we did learn from one of the teachers that she herself was descended from the family of the Princess Pocohantas, whom we had the good fortune of meeting in London. 

Ye see here a portrait of the Princess, which we noted by curious coincidence was painted in the year of 1870, like ‘The Boyhood’. And the cleverer of our young scholars will be quick to point out that both are works of fine fiction.     

We look forward to our next visit to a place of learning in this fair county of Devon: in the fair village of Awliscombe on the sixteenth day of this month.  And so fare thee well, faithful reader.

PS. A nice comment from teacher Suzy Crane: 
What a lovely piece. The children ( and staff) thoroughly enjoyed the visit.  They have been inspired ever since to work away at the board games and find out lots more about Sir Walter! Thank you so much for visiting us.


Thursday, 5 July 2018

Fairlynch Museum's Object of the Month: July 2018

This copy of ‘The Boyhood of Raleigh’ was created by 19 members of the Budleigh Salterton Venture Art Group in 2015. 

They found it to be a challenging but enjoyable project, with individual members responsible for producing a panel each. Now that Fairlynch has the original painting on view you can compare the two by visiting the Raleigh 400 exhibition!

The verse below can be sung to the tune of ‘Greensleeves’, one of the best known of Tudor compositions.




A still life a la Raleigh

Surfing the internet, which is something that I do rather too much, I came across some familiar words at

Familiar because I emailed the idea of a Raleigh-themed painting to Budleigh Salterton Art Club some time ago, and I'm pleased that they like the idea. 

But here's an addition: a still life! 

The Raleigh elements in the above photo are of course the bottle of excellent Raleigh 400 ale brewed by my friend Jonathan Crump at Black Tor Brewery, and also the Pommes Raleigh, a dish specially designed for Raleigh 400 by London-based food writer Rukmini Iyer.  

I'm afraid the wine is French. However Raleigh did spend as long as four years in France, fighting for the Huguenots during the awful Wars of Religion. 

And you could also add a bottle of Lily Farm Vineyard's Raleigh Brut sparkling wine to your still life.

And then enjoy a feast (with friends), having of course finished your painting. 

Below is the text as it appears on Budleigh Salterton Art Club's website.

Paintings at an Exhibition
Club members will be aware that the famous Millais painting of the "Boyhood of Raleigh" will be on display throughout the summer at Fairlynch Museum. 

A suggestion from the Museum is that as this is the 400th anniversary of Sir Walter Raleigh’s death at the Tower of London, members might like to create some Raleigh-inspired paintings, drawings or other artworks for the Art Club's Annual Exhibition in August.

In addition, the Club has been invited to display selected works of art in the Museum following the return of the Boyhood of Raleigh painting to The Tate Gallery later in the summer so we shall be looking for appropriate work to show.

Some suggestions for subjects:
Members might be on holiday in Guiana (Venezuela), Ireland, Raleigh USA, Sherborne or wherever, and if you knew of a fine view and the Raleigh connection you might think of settling down with easel – for example:

i. East Budleigh 
Hayes Barton, Vicars' Mead, a Church bench end in All Saints Church [Green Man/Red Man]
ii.  Lily Farm Vineyard (Knowle, Budleigh - which has produced a Raleigh Brut 2015 sparkling wine)
iii. Colaton Raleigh - Place Court, where Raleigh supposedly was baptised.
iv.  Lympstone (birthplace - it is thought by some - of Sir Ralph Lane, Governor of Raleigh's Roanoke colony),  

Exeter Martyrs Memorial (St Leonards) which shows the burning of Protestant martyr Agnes Prest. It's an event which supposedly deeply affected Walter's mother, Katherine Champernowne.    

Elsewhere in Devon:
Dittisham - Raleigh boathouse - where he supposedly enjoyed a smoke!!
Ashburton - Exeter Inn, where he was arrested in 1603

i. Sherborne Castle (Old Castle ruins and the New Castle)
ii. Cerne Abbas village, where Raleigh was tried for atheism

Acton Court (Iron Acton, Glos - which inspired Hilary Mantel and also welcomed, so they say, Queen Elizabeth I & Raleigh)

Oxford - Oriel College  

i. Tower of London, where Raleigh was a prisoner for 13 years
ii. Middle Temple, where he was a pupil 

Petworth - where they have the Molyneux globe reputedly given by Raleigh to the Earl of Northumberland)

Elizabeth Castle, where he was Govenor

Youghal - Myrtle Grove. He was Mayor of the town, where there is a Raleigh Quarter  

Roanoke Island NC
Raleigh NC - statue of Raleigh  

Plus of course versions of the Millais painting, which could be used in so many ways, including cartoons, adverts for Guinness etc

Plenty of choice! A chance to create something a little different and even have some fun with a cartoon or two. And remember there are awards to be won at the August Exhibition so it's always worth submitting your work. Have fun.


Radical Ralegh

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