Founder of Fairlynch Museum Joy Gawne celebrates 100th Birthday and room renamed in her honour

Founder of Fairlynch Museum Joy Gawne celebrates 100th Birthday and room renamed in her honour - Fairlynch Museum

By: Clare Suttie
Added: 27 September 2020

Among the new exhibits to be found at the Fairlynch Museum in Budleigh Salterton (when it is able to reopen safely) will be a sign renaming the costume room to honour Fairlynch’s co-founder Miss Joy Gawne who celebrated her 100th birthday on 26th September this year. 

A framed poster will explain the origins of the museum’s celebrated costume collection to visitors. 

It really is a remarkable story, which started when Joy and her sisters Elizabeth and Aalish built up the collection of costumes, some of them of national importance. Many of the finds came from local jumble sales and house auctions. To raise money for charity a display of costumes was created for one of the garden parties organised by the sisters at their home in Budleigh Salterton.

Such was its popularity that the sisters decided to open up the displays occasionally to the public. With the house full to bursting with mannequins and costumes, a chance conversation with Budleigh Salterton resident Priscilla Hull over a cup of tea in 1967 resulted in the purchase of Fairlynch and the creation of the town’s museum.

Joy Gawne is the last surviving member of the quartet of local women who bought the house.

Fans of the Fairlynch far and wide will know that the costumes collection has more than 3,000 outfits and accessories with examples from every decade from 1730 to the present day. The displays in the Costume Room are changed every year after careful choice from the Fairlynch costume collection. 

Fairlynch Chairman Trevor Waddington has told stewards and volunteers that Joy is ‘delighted’ to be honoured at the museum which she helped to found.

Head of History Roz Hickman added: “Still taking an interest in all matters concerning her beloved museum, Joy is a mine of information and enjoys sharing her knowledge with us. We wish her a very Happy Birthday on the 26th and Many Happy Returns.”