The founder of Salem

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The Life and Times of East Budleigh’s Roger Conant, founder of Salem, Massachusetts A large and enthusiastic audience filled All Saints Church, East Budleigh, last Friday 30 September. Keen to hear Ian Blackwell’s slideshow talk about Roger Conant, they were also intrigued by the painting ‘Blessed are the Peacemakers’ by Budleigh artist John Washington. It is now on display in the church. Ian explained that he is writing a book about Conant, and gave an excellent insight into the difficulties of distinguishing between ‘known unknowns’ and ‘unknown knowns’ which beset the historian. We know the date of Conant’s baptism in East Budleigh, but not when he was born. He has been described variously as the son of the village miller and as a salter, and Ian was able to show how, over the centuries, myths have obscured the facts. The story of the Queen, the cloak and the puddle, for example, was invented eighty years after Sir Walter Raleigh’s death. Ian showed in his final slide, that East Budleigh road signs welcoming you to the village should proclaim that it is also the birthplace of Roger Conant as well as that ‘chancer’ – Ian’s description – Sir Walter Raleigh.
Ian Blackwell giving his lecture.
John Washington’s painting of Roger Conant hanging in its temporary location in All Saints.