Saturday, 25 April 2020

Radical Ralegh







The point about Sir Walter Ralegh: historian Anna Beer with Millais’ celebrated 1870 painting at Fairlynch Museum.  Dr Beer’s visit coincided with her talk about her book Patriot or Traitor: The Life and Death of Sir Walter Ralegh at Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival on 19 September 2018

To mark 400 years since the execution of Sir Walter Ralegh, on 31 October 2018 the House of Lords Works of Art Panel hosted a talk by Dr Anna Beer. Its theme was the hidden and surprising truth about East Devon’s best known local hero - a swashbuckling soldier, sailor, courtier, poet and explorer who was also a political prisoner turned radical parliamentarian.  
It’s quite a leap from the traditional ‘spuds and ciggies’ jokiness inspired by Sir Walter’s colourful life to consider him as a pioneer of the parliamentary democracy that we enjoy today. Yet for those radical thinkers who revolted against antiquated concepts such as the Divine Right of Kings, Ralegh became something of a hero in the centuries after his death.



































The title page of Ralegh’s History of the World.  A first edition of the work was one of the rare items on display in Fairlynch’s Ralegh 400 exhibition


By all accounts he was a conscientious MP for the Cornish borough of Mitchell.  But it was during his time as one of the Tower of London’s longest-serving prisoners that Ralegh’s political reputation was established. Confined by order of King James, he nonetheless enjoyed access to his extensive library. In 1614, his million-word History of the World was published. The book, with its criticism of bad rulers, infuriated King James, who famously described it as ‘too saucy towards princes’ and tried unsuccessfully to ban it.  

Ralegh followed his History with an equally provocative piece of writing entitled A Dialogue between a Counsellor of State and a Justice of the Peace, described by Anna Beer as a foray into the history and practice of parliamentary politics. It stands, she believes, as Ralegh’s most clear articulation of his political beliefs: ‘a passionate defence of the need for a public sphere characterised by freedom of speech’.
































The American state of New Hampshire's seal depicts the frigate USS Raleigh,  surrounded by a laurel wreath. The Raleigh was one of the first 13 warships sponsored by the Continental Congress for a new American navy, built in 1776, at Portsmouth, NH. She was finally captured by the British in 1778 and renamed as HMS Raleigh


Such writings, including the History with its accounts of the consequences of tyranny, deeply influenced republicans like Oliver Cromwell and John Milton. Over a century later, Ralegh was respected for similar reasons by the American revolutionaries. In 1776, during the War of Independence, they even named one of their warships after him. You can imagine the annoyance of the Royal Navy.

























A Beefeater admires the ‘Lost Garden’ at the Tower of London. The garden was set up in 2018 to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Ralegh’s death.  The British Library has in its collection a manuscript in his own hand containing chemical and medical recipes.

Image credit: Historic Royal Palaces

Along with his writings while a prisoner in the Tower, Ralegh also enjoyed the freedom to conduct scientific experiments in a laboratory converted from a disused hen house. He developed his botanical skills in a herb garden adjacent to his quarters. Such was his reputation as a physician, using medicinal plants that he had discovered during his time in the New World, that Queen Anne herself consulted him when her son Prince Henry fell ill.  

These other, less well known aspects of Ralegh’s life, combine to enhance our view of him as a polymath, typical of the breed of 16th and 17th century freethinkers otherwise known as Renaissance men and women.   

For the 19th Earl of Devon, writing in the 400th anniversary year of Ralegh’s death, East Budleigh’s Great Elizabethan is ‘a hero to every Devonian with a wanderlust and a sense of adventure – we should all make a pilgrimage to the Raleigh Wall in Budleigh Salterton. A copy of the Boyhood of Raleigh hangs on my son’s bedroom wall, a reminder of times when local Devon sailors pushed the bounds of the known world and when our rugged coastline was the Cape Canaveral of its day.'   








































Above: ‘Dreaming Beyond the Medieval’ 

Image credit: Ronnie Heeps  http://www.ronnieheeps.net  

Look closely at the bottom right area of Ronnie Heeps’ painting  'Dreaming Beyond the Medieval'. You’ll see that back in 2006 the artist had exactly that same thought when he was commissioned by the government of Jersey to produce a series of works for Mont Orgueil Castle, the magnificent medieval edifice situated above the picturesque town of Gorey.

‘Raleigh was not afraid to undertake daring deeds and dream of glorious multifaceted worlds, which lay just beyond the horizon of conventional thought,’ wrote the artist. ‘He could comprehend a future world that was not a preordained construct. A future world, which was in a constant state of flux and therefore open to the influence of secular thinkers.’








Saturday, 24 November 2018

Raleigh the entrepreneur: some of today’s Sir Walters have the final frontier in their sights











Above: Sir Walter Raleigh - Dreaming Beyond the Medieval
© Ronnie Heeps

A dozen years ago, the Scottish artist Ronnie Heeps was commissioned by the Jersey Heritage Trust to create a series of paintings which would be permanently housed in Mont Orgueil Castle.








Mont Orgueil Castle also known as Gorey Castle and Lé Vièr Châté, Saint Clement, Grouville, Saint Martin, Jersey
Image credit: Man vyi  


Inspired by Raleigh’s life story, the artist explained in 2006 that he wanted ‘to try and show the inner workings of a true maverick spirit completely embroiled in the zeitgeist of his day’.  









The School of the Night  © Ronnie Heeps 
The School of Night is a modern name for a group of men centred on Sir Walter Raleigh that was once referred to in 1592 as 'The School of Atheism. The group supposedly included poets and scientists Christopher Marlowe, George Chapman, Matthew Roydon and Thomas Harriot.  

For the accusation of atheism levelled at Raleigh see https://raleigh400.blogspot.com/2018/08/when-gloves-were-off-for-raleigh.html


Sir Walter Raleigh, he wrote, ‘excelled in numerous fields and was able to cross between the disciplines of art, science and philosophy with ease. Such a proficiency in study exemplifies the Renaissance man. The ability to comprehend and bring together many disparate ideas enabled him to formulate a worldview, which had eluded many great medieval intellectuals.











'Wee Raleigh Star Commander'   © Ronnie Heeps


‘Raleigh was not afraid to undertake daring deeds and dream of glorious multifaceted worlds, which lay just beyond the horizon of conventional thought,’ saw Ronnie Heeps. ‘He could comprehend a future world that was not a preordained construct. A future world, which was in a constant state of flux and therefore open to the influence of secular thinkers.’









For many people Raleigh will always be the pirate  - as seen in the above poster - or the man who invented tobacco and the potato.









The sign outside the Sir Walter Raleigh pub, East Budleigh

Others know him primarily as the courtier who won Queen Elizabeth’s favour by laying his cloak over that puddle. 








Image source:  http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/137892.html
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

Many know Raleigh as an explorer, but make the mistake of thinking that he travelled in North America. Images such as the above, entitled 'Sir Walter Raleigh ordering the Standard of Queen Elizabeth to be erected on the Coast of Virginia'  did not help: Sir Walter never set foot on the continent.  








A beefeater - officially known as a Yeoman Warder of Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London - inspects the newly installed Apothecary's Garden set up in 2018 to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Raleigh's death. Image credit: Historic Royal Palaces 

Of course he was also a soldier, and a poet. There were moments when he was a diplomat, and in his laboratory during his imprisonment in the Tower of London he was an amateur scientist. 

You can read more about this aspect at https://raleigh400.blogspot.com/2018/10/sir-walters-lost-garden-revived-for.html
 
Not too many people are aware of Raleigh as an entrepreneur.









I don’t know whether Raleigh is one of Sir Richard Branson’s heroes, but Virgin Trains certainly has a locomotive, no. 221113, named after the Great Elizabethan.

And yet, to finance the incredibly expensive expeditions which he organised, the talents of the modern entrepreneur were what he needed. Which is why the American economist Professor Brent Lane has compared Raleigh’s efforts 400 years ago ‘to push the bounds of the known world’ with the programmes of 21st century space exploration undertaken by entrepreneurs like Sir Richard Branson, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. 

You can read more at    

It’s a view echoed by many who appreciate the Great Elizabethan as a visionary of his time.




'Sir Walter Raleigh is a hero to every Devonian with a wanderlust and a sense of adventure – we should all make a pilgrimage to the Raleigh Wall in Budleigh Salterton,’ Charles Courtenay told me.  ‘A copy of the Boyhood of Raleigh hangs on my son’s bedroom wall, a reminder of times when local Devon sailors pushed the bounds of the known world and when our rugged coastline was the Cape Canaveral of its day.'   

Look closely at Ronnie Heeps’ painting 'Dreaming Beyond the Medieval' and you’ll see that thought of Cape Canaveral which so inspired Charles Courtenay, also known as the 19th Earl of Devon.

For Raleigh, the backing of financiers like William Sanderson (?1548-1638) was vital to ensure that investors in the City of London would support his plans for colonies in the New World. It was Sanderson, a member of the City of London Fishmongers’ Livery Company and married to Raleigh’s niece, who had sponsored and managed the voyages undertaken by the navigator John Davis in search of the North West Passage.







A portrait of Sir Walter Raleigh with a globe, attributed to Federico Zuccari (1542/1543–1609). Raleigh points to the Arctic region of a globe, a reference to the many Arctic voyages made by the English in search of a northwest passage to the Orient, and the privilege granted by Elizabeth I to Raleigh to make northwest discoveries and exploit land in North America.

He also furnished funds to construct the first globes in England, made by Emery Molyneux (d. 1598). He acted for several years as Sir Walter’s financial manager, naming one of his sons Raleigh. 




The Molyneux globe at Petworth, Sussex. 
Image credit: Mark Sherouse
family tradition has it that Henry Percy, ninth Earl of Northumberland and owner of Petworth, met Sir Walter Raleigh when they were both confined in the Tower of London. Being a man of learning, Raleigh may have given the globe to the ninth Earl as a gift. It has no doubt been at Petworth since the Earl's release from the Tower in 1621.
Read more about the Petworth globe at https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/petworth-house-and-park/features/dont-miss-the-molyneux-globe-at-petworth-house

I’d imagined that interest in Sir Walter would fade by the end of 2018. But a few months ago, another Raleigh 400 made its appearance online, emerging not from Devon or Dorset or even the US but from the City of London.








Drapers' Hall, London 

An ambitious year-long series of events focused on business and education is being launched in December 2018 at a reception in Drapers’ Hall. It’s largely the initiative of Peter Hewitt, a former Alderman in the City of London, founding Freeman and Master of the Guild of Entrepreneurs and descendant of Sir Walter Raleigh.   

‘The purpose of the year-long Raleigh 400 celebrations (“R400”) is to re-energise bilateral trading relations between the UK and the US’ reads a statement online explaining the three-fold philosophy behind the move.

‘The past – new research by Queen Mary’s University of London (“QMUL”) on the exploits of Raleigh and his connection with the City of London and the Plantation of Virginia. The present – bringing together business leaders and senior politicians from both sides of the Atlantic to further develop UK-US relations. The future – using a major education festival to educate students of all ages on both sides of the Atlantic on our common heritage, tradition of entrepreneurship and wealth creation.’






On Thanksgiving Day I was delighted to raise a glass of our local Lily Farm Vineyard’s Raleigh sparkling wine and toast this R400 worthy initiative. The occasion was a Thanksgiving Day lunch on Thursday 22 November with Budleigh friends who have family or friends on the other side of ‘The Pond’.

You can read more about R400 at https://raleigh400.com/


FOR THE RALEIGH 400  CALENDAR OF 
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Friday, 23 November 2018

A Raleigh sparkling wine




A view of the vines at Lily Farm, Knowle, just outside Budleigh Salterton
One of my favourite walks in the Budleigh area starts from the Dog & Donkey pub in Knowle, follows Dalditch Lane for a mile or so and then heads off up a sandy track to the right before plunging northwards into woods. Carry on in the same direction, and you find yourself on Hayes Lane, outside the picturesque farmhouse of Hayes Barton, Sir Walter Raleigh’s birthplace.  
Early on in the walk you’ll notice the neat rows of vines on the south-facing slopes of  the appropriately named Lily Farm Vineyard.  It’s described on its website as ‘a small family run boutique vineyard established in 2005 that produces award winning English sparkling and still wines. www.lilyfarmvineyard.com



Young Raleigh may well have passed the place on his way from Hayes Barton to the coast, so it’s no surprise to find a Lily Farm wine named after him. Its Raleigh Brut 2015 sparkling wine won the South West Vineyard Association (SWVA) Silver Medal in 2017.
Made using the traditional method, bottle fermented and then aged on the lees for 10 months before being disgorged,’ is the winemaker’s description. ‘Aromatic, floral and delicate on the nose.  Crisp, zesty, lemony, yet  creamy smooth with honeyed notes on the palate.  Elegant with balanced acidity leads to a delicious finish.’
Sir Walter had a special interest in wine during his lifetime. In May 1583 he received a patent for the sale of wine and the licensing of vintners, receiving an annual fee from each licensee as additional revenue. The patent was renewed for a period of 31 years in 1588, but Raleigh was made to surrender it in 1602 when King James succeeded Elizabeth I.

Lily Farm’s Raleigh sparkling wine is not the only beverage named after Sir Walter. You can read about  Raleigh 400 ale, launched in 2018 by Dartmoor-based Black Tor Brewery, at 
http://raleigh400.blogspot.com/2018/05/a-merrie-tale-about-ale.html

There’s also a Sir Walter Raleigh cocktail, as well as rums associated with the Great Elizabethan. You can read about them at https://raleigh400.blogspot.com/2018/11/of-raleigh-and-rums.html

The cocktail ‘goes easy on the tongue and puts you in a point of stasis where you can sit back and wax ironically about everything,’ writes the American enthusiast Professor Chad Wilson.  


FOR THE RALEIGH 400  CALENDAR OF EVENTS 

WORLDWIDE IN 2018 CLICK ON 
http://raleigh400.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/raleigh-400-calendar-of-events-in-2018.html







Of Raleigh and rums





If you want to make your own Sir Walter Raleigh cocktail, take a look at Professor Chad Wilson's suggestion at http://stayathomecocktails.com/2011/02/the-sir-walter-raleigh/

Ideally, I suppose, it should be made with Sir Walter Raleigh rum, produced for a firm called REAL CARIBBEAN TREASURES by Alcoholes y Rones de Panamá, S.A. 

I see that its office is in Venezuela - or 'Guyana' as Sir Walter would have known that country
http://www.swron.com/en/conoce-el-ron/


One of the most prestigious rums in the world, also made in that part of the world, is named El Dorado, made by Demerara Distillers Limited and described as 'the liquid gold of Guyana', at prices to match.  https://www.theeldoradorum.com/

I've yet to try it. 

31 Dec 2018: PS. I did splash out on a bottle of El Dorado rum for my birthday. Excellent! First time I'd tasted rum actually, and I'll be back for more. Might even try making the cocktail. 




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Radical Ralegh

The point about Sir Walter Ralegh: historian Anna Beer with Millais’ celebrated 1870 painting at Fairlynch Museum.  Dr Beer’s visi...