Thursday, 20 September 2018

Sir Walter led the LitFest

Author Anna Beer visited Fairlynch Museum’s Raleigh 400 exhibition before her Literary Festival talk to admire Sir John Everett Millais’ masterpiece The Boyhood of Raleigh.  The museum exhibition ends on 31 October.

It seemed only right that the first talk of Budleigh Salterton’s 2018 Literary Festival dealt with the complex character of Sir Walter Raleigh in the weeks leading up to the 400th anniversary of the East Devon hero’s death.

For historian Anna Beer who spoke to a packed audience in the Temple Methodist Church on  Wednesday 19 September it was her second visit to Budleigh, following the publication of her acclaimed 2004 biography of Raleigh’s wife Bess.    

Patriot or Traitor: The Life and Death of Sir Walter Ralegh is Anna Beer’s latest book. It’s an authoritative but highly readable study of a man who, as the author writes, ‘lived more lives than most people of his time, of any time’.

His patriotism was clear, she told the audience, including his deep attachment to his home county.  ‘And a traitor?’ she asked. ‘You’ll have to read the book.’  

Patriot or Traitor: The Life and Death of Sir Walter Ralegh by Anna Beer is published by Oneworld Publications ISBN 978-1-78607-434-8

Find out more about the Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival at

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Raleigh Far and Wide: West Horsley - 'A School and that Head'

Quite a few schools have a link to Raleigh merely because they've chosen the name of our Great Elizabethan. However The Raleigh School in Surrey has a more substantial link and is clearly proud of it, as I found out from its Bursar, Peter Hill.

The school is a popular two-form entry co-educational primary academy in the semi-rural village of West Horsley, near Guildford.  It takes children from 4 to 11, and includes on site a privately run Nursery that admits children from the age of 2½

The vast majority of children move on at age 11, to the Howard of Effingham School, an outstanding academy that operates as the hub for a group of 10 schools making up the Effingham Learning Partnership, a thriving collaborative network for teaching and learning. 

West Horsley Place: the mid-17th century facade applied to the 15th-century structure.  Credit: Colin Smith

The Raleigh School's link is through its location in West Horsley.  It was at the Surrey manor house known as West Horsley Place that Raleigh’s only surviving son Carew came to live during the Civil War together with his mother Bess, who had kept her husband’s embalmed head in a leather bag after his execution in 1618.

St Mary’s Church, West Horsley  
Image credit: Hassocks5489

The date on which Sir Walter’s head was transferred to its final resting-place is unknown, but local historians in West Horsley claim that it lies under the floor of the chantry chapel of St Mary’s Church along with the bodies of Carew’s children who had died of the plague. 

Sir Humphrey Gilbert, Raleigh's half-brother. He features in Millais' celebrated painting 'The Boyhood of Raleigh'

The Raleigh School has reflected the link by naming parts of its building. One is known as Walter’s Wing. The Falcon Wing, for two older junior classes, is named after the 100-ton ship captained by Raleigh during the ill-fated expedition of November 1578 to discover ‘heathen and barbarous lands, counties and territories not actually possessed by any Christian prince or people’. 

Led by Raleigh’s half-brother Sir Humphrey Gilbert in November 1578 the expedition has been described as ‘an obviously disastrous adventure’ which failed to achieve any of its aims and ended up being seen by the Government as an embarrassing episode of piracy.

The Raleigh School also has a link with an American school in Raleigh, North Carolina. 

You can read more about The Raleigh School at

A Raleigh 400 Westminster Lecture: ‘The Life and Times of Sir Walter Raleigh’

Following on from the Symposium ‘Sir Walter Raleigh beyond England’ on 29 October there will be a lecture, ‘The Life and Times of Sir Walter Raleigh’ by Dr Mark Nicholls, of St John’s College, Cambridge from 6.30 – 7.30 pm.

Dr Nicholls’ publications include several analyses of conspiracies and state trials in Tudor and Stuart times, as well as studies of ‘succession politics’ at the death of Queen Elizabeth I and Raleigh’s political career. He was co-author with Penry Williams of Sir Walter Raleigh: in Life and Legend (2011).

Tickets: To book tickets (free), visit the Eventbrite website

An exhibition 'Sir Walter Raleigh and Virginia' will run from 
Monday 28 October – Wednesday 31 October:
Free entry. 
For opening times, please see


Westminster’s Raleigh 400 Symposium

Continued from

Statue of Sir Walter Raleigh at the Raleigh Convention Center in North Carolina

Raleigh’s legacy in the New World is well established, if only in the naming of the capital of the US state of North Carolina.

‘Sir Walter Raleigh beyond England’ is the title of a Symposium being conducted at St Margaret’s Church, Westminster on Monday 29 October, from 4.00 to 5.30pm, following the Sung Eucharist held the previous day.

Speakers from the USA who will contribute to the event include Dr Eric Klingelhofer, Emeritus Professor of History, at Mercer University, Georgia. Dr Klingelhofer has been involved in archaeological fieldwork at sites in Ireland and the Caribbean as well as at sites related to Elizabethan colonization in North Carolina.

Also speaking will be Dr Beverley Straube, Curator/Archaeologist, at the First Colony Foundation (FCF), with which Dr Klingelhofer has been involved.  

The Foundation, a North Carolina  non-profit organization formed in April 2003, is dedicated to conducting archaeological and historical research relating to the story of America’s beginnings with the attempts by Sir Walter Raleigh to establish English colonies at Roanoke Island in the 1580s under his charter from Queen Elizabeth I.

You can read more about the important and fascinating work of the FCF at

To book tickets (free) for the St Margaret’s Symposium, visit the Eventbrite website

To read about the Raleigh Lecture which follows the Symposium, click here

An exhibition 'Sir Walter Raleigh and Virginia' will run from 
Monday 28 October – Wednesday 31 October:
Free entry. 

For opening times, please see


Westminster’s Raleigh 400 Commemoration

St Margaret's Church, Westminster
Image credit John Salmon 

Immediately following his execution in Old Palace Yard, Westminster, on 29 October 1618, Sir Walter Raleigh was buried under the chancel of nearby St Margaret’s Church.

A special Sung Eucharist at St Margaret’s will take place at 11.00 am on Sunday 28 October, at which the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall will preach.  

If you would like to attend, please contact the Rector’s Secretary by email: 

The service is one of various commemorative events which are taking place at St Margaret’s.

Continued at




Raleigh 400 concert in Exeter


Back in January I mentioned the series of concerts staged to mark the Raleigh 400th anniversary by lutenist Din Ghani and soprano Gillian Wormley, members of the group Musick in the Ayre.  

The group’s musical styles range from Renaissance to early Baroque, and the 2018 programme has been chosen with Sir Walter’s poems in mind: there are songs based on his works as well as some associated with other significant personages - Queen Elizabeth, the Earl of Essex, Prince Henry to name a few - and with the New World which fascinated Raleigh.

St Michael and All Angels Church, Exeter. The church was built between 1865 and 1868 and is said to possess the highest spire west of Salisbury at 70 m (230 ft
Photo © Copyright Chris Holifield

This Saturday's concert is entitled ‘Amor et virtute: a portrait in song of Walter Raleigh’, and takes place in the Exeter church of St Michael and All Angels, Mount Dinham. The programme, put together by Din Ghani, will be similar to that performed at the National Portrait Gallery in London on 23 February. 

St Michael and All Angels has a special connection to the Great Devonian. Raleigh’s interest in falconry is well known, and the church is celebrated for its peregrine falcons, described as probably the most productive and thoroughly researched family of nesting falcons in Devon!  

Come along this Saturday 22 September and celebrate Sir Walter’s life with Musick in the Ayre and their 'Amor et virtute' concert in honour of the Raleigh's 400th anniversary. The concert is from 3.00 - 4.00 pm. Doors open at 2.30 pm. 

Details about the church are at


Sunday, 9 September 2018

A Ramble with Raleigh (2)

Here are pages 3 and 4 from the downloadable 10-page document about Sir Walter Raleigh. It’s intended as a useful guide to teachers and others who may be planning a visit to the Budleigh area as part of a class project on our local hero.

Contact if you would like a copy.


A National Trust visit to Fairlynch

News of the extended loan of ‘The Boyhood of Raleigh’ has resulted in a further boost for visitor numbers, including increased interest from groups. Seen here with Chairman Trevor Waddington are members of the  Exeter & District National Trust group who visited on 26 July.

Group leader Nerina Frampton was delighted with the visit: ‘I cannot begin to thank you enough for the warmth of your reception, for doing so much to make us welcome and for your sheer expertise,’ she told Trevor. ‘Every single one of our group told me how much they had enjoyed their visit and seeing some of your permanent and temporary treasures.’   

Sir John Everett Millais’ painting ‘The Boyhood of Raleigh’ continues to be the main attraction for visitors. The Fairlynch Raleigh 400 exhibition provides a rare chance to see the painting at eye-level, so details can now be appreciated. It’s only recently that I realized that what I thought was a basket, to the right of the sailor, seems to be lined on the outside with exotic feathers. 

Could it be, like the toucan, next to it, something that the sailor brought back from his travels in the New World? Could it in fact be some sort of upturned headgear worn by a native of somewhere like Guyana, which Raleigh would visit on two occasions? Has Millais painted it to balance the smart green hat with its feather, next to young Walter?

The painting goes back to London on 31 October, but until then you have the chance to admire this magnificent piece of Victorian artistic romance; and there’s lots more to see in the exhibition.  Group visits are welcome. 


Sir Walter led the LitFest

Author Anna Beer visited Fairlynch Museum’s Raleigh 400 exhibition before her Literary Festival talk to admire Sir John Everett Mill...