Friday, August 01, 2008

Cobbaton Combat Museum, Devon

Here we see Matthew Applegate, Visitors Services Manager at Barrington Court, showing utter disdain for Hitler and his entire war machine, by posing in front of a Sherman Tank a good 60 years after the war finished.
It was our "lads day out"! Matthew and I had been planning for a few weeks for a trip to Cobbaton Combat Museum, a privately owned collection of militaria in the Devon countryside, so we could enjoy looking at the tanks, but also so we could have a look at their prices when it came to de-activated weapons and uniforms (all for research into my forthcoming WWII Home Guard shows). I picked up Matthew from Barrington Court at about 11am and we drove down the M5 and turned off at the Tiverton exit. We fairly quickly found the museum, but it was more than definitely lunch by this time and as I had done the driving and paid for the fuel, Matthew offered to buy lunch. I refused his offer of a Pot Noodle and a glass of water and instead we began a hunt for a pub, and what a pub did we find! We drove to the village of Chittlehampton and went into the Bell Inn. If you are down in this area of Devon I can highly recommend it - great food and fabulous beer. I would have been quite happy to stay there all day, but it was time to head back to Cobbaton and the museum.
It was an interesting stroll round the exhibits and they have some marvellous stuff there, but by God do they need a Museum Manager. Most of the exhibits are caked in dust, and we are talking YEARS-WORTH rather than just weeks. Quite a few of the photo exhibits are water or condensation damaged and a major portion of the entire exhibition seems to be cobwebs. Most of the tanks and people carriers seem to be used as storage cupboards as well as exhibits. You also find large swathes of exhibits with absolutely no information on them at all - you just have to guess. Despite me sounding very negative, please understand this museum is well worth a visit - but it could be so much better.
Back to Somerset we tried to stop for a pint somewhere but were just a bit too early for anywhere to be open yet, so it was back to Matthew's flat in Strode House and a cup of tea. Very nice, but a pint would have been better!
This weekend it is up to Essex for an appearance as Henry at Southminster Museum in Southend. See you there.

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