Saturday, 27 January 2018

Four hundred years on: Raleigh reviewed


How do you see this most complex and controversial figure of Britain’s history? Here is a selection of views of Sir Walter. They are offered, specially for Raleigh 400, by people from our times. They have reflected in many cases on what he means to them personally.

Benedict Allen
Author, environmentalist, film-maker, international motivational speaker
'Having read about him since childhood, and then negotiating the Orinoco myself, and over the years visiting his house and by contrast his room in the Tower of London, reading his poems and thinking of his dreams, fulfilled or not, I feel such an attachment to this hugely intelligent, gloriously daring and yet highly sensitive man.'

Richard Champernowne
East Devon resident  
I am only indirectly related to Sir Walter Ralegh, having a blood line from me back to his maternal grandfather Sir Arthur Champernowne.  As a representative of the Champernowne family I was pleased to be invited to open Fairlynch Museum’s exhibition in honour of Sir Walter. He stands out as one of Devon’s most fascinating historical figures.’    

Cindy Chant
Blue Badge Guide, Sherborne Walks
‘He had every talent a man could have! Surely one of the most remarkable figures in Elizabethan England, and we here in the town of Sherborne were fortunate to have him share part of his life with us.’ 

Charles Courtenay, 19th Earl of Devon
'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.  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.'    

Professor Martin Dodsworth
Editor, Sir Walter Ralegh  The Poems, with other Verse from the court of Elizabeth I, Everyman Paperbacks 1999
‘He was an adventurer and always gambled for high stakes. He was a man of action, but not only that. He was a courtier and a parliamentarian, a thinker and a poet whose poetry is forceful and convincing. The tenderness which he displayed in his letters to his wife and children is another important facet of this many-sided man. If he was an adventurer, he was not just an adventurer.’

Gerard Fane-Trefusis, 22nd Baron Clinton
‘I am proud to be Patron of Fairlynch Museum because it is such a splendid  example of an institution and its volunteers serving the local community and caring so deeply for Devon’s heritage.  In this very special anniversary year of the death of one of the county’s great historical figures the Museum deserves congratulation for its Raleigh 400 initiative.’

Alex Godfrey
Farmer and chair of the National Farmers’ Union Potato Forum
‘He certainly had a big impact on my line of work, effectively sowing the seed for an industry that now supports 2,000 business in the UK (though at times in the past it has been tens of thousands), and accounts for over 110,000 hectares of farmland each year.  They are also part of over 8.5 billion meals in the UK each year.’ 

Lt Cdr (Retd) Nigel M Griffiths QGM, Head of Ceremonial, Royal Hospital School, Suffolk

‘I was not aware this year was the 400th Anniversary and we had no plans to celebrate at the Royal Hospital School.  However, now this has been brought to our attention I will investigate how we can celebrate this momentous occasion of such a prolific English Adventurer. The Royal Hospital School was founded in 1712 to ‘improve navigation’ through education and, as it prepared boys for a life at sea, many went on to become explorers and pioneers of their time. Discovery, exploration and challenge have been the bedrock of our education for over 300 years and continue to shape our ethos. Today the School provides an outstanding, full and broad education fit for the modern world and enriched by this unique naval heritage. The House system is at the heart of school life at the Royal Hospital School. Raleigh House - official motto: ‘Work hard: play hard’ - was re-opened in September 2010 as the Royal Hospital School’s first co-educational day house. The staff of Raleigh House and I are keen to be involved in celebrating Sir Walter’s life; I would be honoured if we could be considered for an invitation to the commemorative service at St Margaret’s Church, Westminster.’

Steve Hitchcock
Headteacher, St Peter's Church of England Primary School, Budleigh Salterton 
We would definitely like to plan a visit to Fairlynch, especially while the Millais ‘Boyhood of Raleigh’ painting is on display. Seeing the original painting will be a memorable experience for the children and we think that it will provide excellent inspiration for some artwork. We would be more than willing to have some examples of resulting pupils’ work displayed on your museum’s website. For the older children it could be a usefully challenging classroom activity to imagine the kind of dialogue between the characters in the painting, or to write a diary based on the voyages undertaken by Raleigh’s colonists.  Our staff feel that the painting and other items in the display, including the Native American implements and the 16th century English artefacts will be a real talking-point to make the Raleigh story itself better known, especially as many of the children from our school live so near his birthplace. 

Cllr Jill Hogben
Mayor of Sherborne, Dorset
Sir Walter Raleigh could well have built his magnificent Castle and country retreat in East Devon, the land of his birth rather than at Sherborne. In 1584 he wrote without success to the owner of Hayes Barton, the farmhouse in which he’d been born, seeking to buy the property. The owner refused to sell! Devon’s loss was Dorset’s gain! I am delighted to add my tribute as Mayor of Sherborne to the great Elizabethan gentleman and fellow-mayor, poet and adventurer who found what he described as his ‘fortune’s fold’ in our beautiful town.   
Amy Hughes
Humanities faculty leader, St Peter’s Prep School, Lympstone, Devon 

‘We would be very happy to promote the Raleigh 400 exhibition to our parents and children. I have included it in my Humanities development plan and we are looking forward to ensuring that this important event, the 400th anniversary year of his death is one to remember. Staff are currently planning and deciding which activities to do with their classes. We fully support the work that you are doing. We plan to discuss how as a school we are going to make sure this local Devonian is remembered. We are excited!’ 

Nigel Jones
Editor, The Devonshire Magazine; founder of HubCast
‘The Devonshire Magazine was proud to publish a tribute to Sir Walter Raleigh in the 400th anniversary year of his death. He’s one of the county’s best known historical figures. Whenever I pass Hayes Barton I’m struck by the contrast between the beautiful quiet surroundings of Sir Walter’s birthplace in East Budleigh and his turbulent, complex life with its astonishing achievements. So many places in Devon to make you wonder.’

Tony Klein
Translator and poet
Yes, we should certainly celebrate him, 'We have not such another head to cut off!'  Raleigh always fascinates for the quality of his mind, his foresight as regards parliamentary democracy and international trade, his wide interests, his sublime courage, and his subtlety....a moon man rather than a sun man in his gleam, I think. The kind of individual even a Shakespeare must have regarded with wonder and perhaps a little envy?’

Professor Edward Brent Lane
Kenan Institute Fellow of Economic Strategy, University of North Carolina
‘I research the business aspects of Ralegh’s exploration and settlement efforts and especially his interest in the emerging sciences and the deployment of scientific expertise in his explorations. From my earlier career as venture capital investor in technology startups I have come to appreciate Ralegh as the first tech entrepreneur using scientific expertise to address the rightly fully skeptical perspectives of the English merchant adventurers - including many in the West Country - in the wake of failed ventures such as Frobisher’s. Most recently I have focused on the lessons those experiences offer in our entrepreneurial era of space exploration and colonization.’

Dame Hilary Mary Mantel, DBE FRSL
Author, Budleigh Salterton resident 
‘Yes, I could have written about Sir Walter! He is as complex and as intriguing as Thomas Cromwell. Politics in their time was a grievous business, when a mistake meant not retirement to the back benches, but the loss of your head. But I’ve always been on the side of the man on the make.’ 

Kate Ponting
Countryside Learning Officer, Clinton Devon Estates
‘I am keen that children from local schools should be aware of the historical importance as well as the environmental value of the East Devon area. In connection with the Raleigh 400 exhibition and the legends attached to Sir Walter I am arranging a farm visit to help with potato planting near his birthplace for local primary school children.  This will be fun and educational for them. I will certainly take the opportunity of encouraging the children and their parents to visit your exhibition to learn about the historical background.' 

The Rt Hon Sir Hugo Swire KCMG MP
Instrumental in commissioning the statue of Raleigh at East Budleigh
‘Sir Walter Raleigh was a great Devonian and I was delighted to have played a part in bringing about a lasting memorial to one of our local heroes, an extraordinary renaissance man and an inspiring historical figure. This is the right time for South West businesses to rekindle his buccaneering spirit and take advantage of international markets.’

Michael Terry
East Devon resident, actor
‘I have a deep love for Raleigh and welcome this project of celebrating his life in this 400th anniversary year. I have lived in East Devon for over 30 years and have ancestors whom we can trace back to the 1500s, one of whom was a Master Mariner who was reputed to have sailed on the Revenge. Much later we have a record of one who was an able seaman under Collingwood at Trafalgar. I have played Raleigh a couple of times the last for Clinton Devon Estates, when I read his poetry sitting at an upstairs window at Hayes Barton.’

Giles Trelawny
Head of History, Exeter School, Devon
'Exeter School was well aware of the 400th anniversary of Sir Walter Raleigh’s death, and of course we have a Raleigh House at the school. Among this year’s scheduled events we are planning for a lecture on Raleigh’s life and impact by Professor James Daybell of Plymouth University.  There will also be teaching within the Year 8 academic programme about the impact of Raleigh and other Elizabethan seafarers. We will certainly be encouraging our pupils to visit the exhibition, especially as it offers the opportunity of seeing the original version of Millais’ great painting ‘The Boyhood of Raleigh’.  We will be more than happy to exchange ideas on how our pupils can learn about the importance of early colonists like Raleigh and their ventures in the New World. We teach quite a lot about the empire here, both good and bad, so we have no qualms in looking at Raleigh in historical context.'

Trevor Waddington OBE
Chairman, Fairlynch Museum, Budleigh Salterton, Devon
‘Our principal aim is that people should be made aware of the importance of this great historical figure: explorer and adventurer, historian and poet, courtier, scientist and Devonian who met his death so bravely on the scaffold 400 years ago’.

Nicholas Wakeling 
Head of English, Charterhouse, Godalming, Surrey

'I've always admired the sense of balance, playfulness and passion in Raleigh's poetry. Since becoming a resident of East Budleigh, I've become ever more aware of the many ways in which the life of the village's most famous son helped to shape the modern world. It is all the more astounding that, at the same time, he was a prominent participant in a literary culture that influenced everything written in English thereafter, rubbing shoulders with Sir Philip Sidney, Edmund Spenser and - perhaps - even Christopher Marlowe. To read the poetry can, perhaps, help us to understand the contradictions of the man and the exciting, fast-changing and dangerous age in which he lived. Raleigh's language, densely allusive, yet strikingly lucid, makes his poems a fantastic starting point when teaching Elizabethan literature.'

Edward & Maria Wingfield-Digby
Sherborne Castle, Dorset
400 years on from Raleigh’s execution, his legacy and legend live on at Sherborne Castle, both of which should be celebrated and championed. In 1594, he built here a country seat befitting of his new found status.  Without his passion and vision we would not have the home and estate we have today.  Raleigh’s land and property acquisitions remain largely unaltered and form the core  of our estate.  To Raleigh, Sherborne was his “Fortunes Fold” and the home he most cherished.  His impact is indelible and lives on in many aspects of the Castle and Garden.’

David Wood, Director of 'The Lost Colony', Roanoke Island, North Carolina 
'On behalf of all of us involved with this year's production of The Lost Colony on Roanoke Island, USA, we deeply appreciate your good wishes and wish to assure you that Sir Walter Raleigh is quite handsomely portrayed in our outdoor drama. We send warmest wishes to everyone at the Fairlynch Museum and the 400 team as we celebrate the 400th anniversary of a truly remarkable man.'

Cllr Tom Wright, Mayor of Budleigh Salterton (2018)
‘He was born a few miles away in the village of East Budleigh rather than in Budleigh Salterton. But thanks to Millais’ famous painting ‘The Boyhood of Raleigh’ our town is well and truly linked to Sir Walter. We are proud of our association with this local hero, such an interesting and complex character. Our Town Council’s crest, granted on 15 December 1959, is a shield, supported by a griffin, which shows the five lozenges of Sir Walter’s coat of arms.’


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