Celebrating Caroline

PUBLISHED: 01:01 21 February 2008 | UPDATED: 08:50 10 June 2010

HUNDREDS packed St Margaret's Church on Saturday to pay tribute to one of the founders of the Topsham Museum, Caroline Oboussier, who died in December aged 79. The memorial service heard tributes from Caroline's niece from Switzerland, her brother-in-law

HUNDREDS packed St Margaret's Church on Saturday to pay tribute to one of the founders of the Topsham Museum, Caroline Oboussier, who died in December aged 79. The memorial service heard tributes from Caroline's niece from Switzerland, her brother-in-law, her daughter and representatives of Topsham's businesses and institutions.Soprano Elizabeth Drury, with organist Tony Yates, performed a series of moving works including Dido's Lament by Henry Purcell and a selection by Bach.Chairman of the Topsham Museum David Clement said: "It was quite an unusual service - it wasn't so much a memorial but a celebration of her life."The church was absolutely packed and you couldn't find a parking space in the whole of Topsham on Saturday afternoon. There must have been several hundred people."The numbers were a reflection of the high regard in which she was held in life - post-war she qualified as an architect, at a time when few women entered the profession.She specialised in conservation and published several books on Topsham, with her research feeding the museum's extensive archive.This made her ideally placed to mastermind the setting up of the 'House' area following the death of Dorothy Holman who bequeathed the house to the museum.Museum volunteer Charles Potter said: "Her academic interpretation of the museum's architecture and artefacts was enhanced by her light-hearted and often humorous sketches to illustrate the displays - and indeed an ability to see the lighter side of things was one of her great strengths."She also made an invaluable - often unseen - contribution, having an uncanny knack of spotting new talent; many of the existing volunteers can trace the origin of their involvement to that 'harmless' invitation to tea and cake at her house in The Strand.Charles added: "For over 20 years this interest in the museum was unfailing and, even when her health kept her confined to barracks, she continued to research, write and produce at a phenomenal rate."The end of her superbly to-the-point yet economic text for the new display boards in these galleries is already lamented."She richly deserved the position of vice-president which she held for many years. Her friendship and wise counsel will be sorely missed by all her friends and colleagues in the Society."David added: "Topsham was a place very dear to her heart. She made an enormous contribution with her ideas during the planning of the now completed Lottery Project and maintained a close watching brief on the construction. "As one of our vice-presidents, she was a founder of the Topsham Museum Society with Barbara Entwistle; and over many years had watched over the house and its contents. "She was a slight person but her frailty belied her strength of purpose and determination to see everything 'done correctly'. "Caroline will be hugely missed and we send our condolences to her husband Philippe and her family.

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