Silverware provides link to town's late mayor and rector

Old sepia photography showing a husband and wife with their four daughters and baby son

The Courtenay family - Credit: Honiton Museum

A silver cream jug was recently donated to the museum. Along with the salver, it was originally a gift presented to the Rev Hon Frederick Courtenay (Honiton’s Rector and Mayor) and his wife Marguerite on the occasion of their silver wedding anniversary in 1932.

The couple were married in Itchen Abbas, Hampshire on January 9, 1907. The parishioners put out bunting, laid a carpet to the church porch and waited outside for the arrival of the bride. Marguerite was escorted by her father John Silva, and she was attended by four bridesmaids. She wore pearl jewellery, a white silk dress, trimmed with lace, a tulle veil with a jasmine and orange blossom headdress, and carried a bouquet of white flowers.

One of the clergy conducting the ceremony was Frederick’s brother the Rev Hon Henry Hugh Courtenay who was also the best man. The wedding cake was supplied by an Oxford Street baker. After the ceremony the couple left to tour Cornwall. The choirboys were treated to tea and the adults attended a roast beef dinner followed by a smoking concert in the evening.

Their wedding gifts included a bicycle and a large quantity of candlesticks, cutlery, clocks, paper knives, inkstands, jugs, pots, matchboxes, cruet sets and decanters, all made of silver.

In January the following year, the couple moved to Honiton where Frederick became the rector. They went on to have two sons and five daughters, but sadly their first born son Henry died on Easter Sunday when he was only three days old.

Frederick took a prominent part in local affairs. He was the mayor of Honiton between 1929 and 1933 and the rural dean of Honiton between 1928 and 1933. Marguerite was heavily involved in charitable works, especially the Red Cross.

Frederick succeeded his brother Henry as the 16th Earl of Devon in February 1935. He only held the title for four months. He was attending a Masonic function at Eton when he suffered a heart attack. The Countess and their son were summoned from Brighton and their daughters from Powderham. A second heart attack caused his death. He was buried in the family vault at Powderham where a stained glass window was installed in the Church and one of the images included in it depicts an otter representing Honiton.