Marking the 400th anniversary of the death of Sir Walter Raleigh (or Ralegh; pronounced either Rally or Rawly). Born between 1552 and 1554 at Hayes Barton, East Budleigh, Devon. Unjustly executed in London on 29 October, 1618. Explorer, courtier, fashion icon, parliamentarian, diplomat, politician, soldier, ship designer, poet, historian, businessman, chemist and botanist with the reputation, in later life, of being a physician... and Great Devonian.
Monday, 9 July 2018
A beacon of learning
Sir Walter with some of the young scholars at Exmouth's The Beacon, Church of England VA Primary School
‘Tis truly apt that the
Museum of Fairlynch in the fair town of Budleigh Salterton doth share the same
emblem as that place of learning in the fair town of Exmouth, known as the
Beacon School. For verily a beacon doth stand for light amidst the darkness of
ignorance and foolishness that we see in the world today.
The Raleigh board game is part of the Teachers' Pack, available free of charge to schools thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund
And thus it was that Dame
Lizzie, continuing to labour most fruitfully for the Museum, did arrange our
visit on the sixth day of July past where we did address all the assembled
scholars of the Beacon School.
lady hath devised these rules of the making of a board game which doth
illustrate the ups and downs of our eventful life; such a board game might be
the celebrated and commonly played Snakes and Ladders.
The pub sign at the Sir Walter Raleigh, East Budleigh
For verily there were a multitude of
ladders in our life which led us upwards. We quoted the example of the cloak that
we laid over the famous puddle, such that our Sovereign Lady Elizabeth did walk
dry shod. And thus it was that we were rewarded not merely with a dazzling
smile from her sweet lips but with the highest offices at Court and in the fair
land of England!
Ye see here the famous event on the sign of the fine alehouse named
in our honour in the fair village of East Budleigh.
But was the story true, we asked the young
scholars. Some of them did most cleverly doubt such a story, and we did confess
that ‘twas an ingenious invention. But a good story notwithstanding!
Elizabeth I by Exeter artist Nicholas Hilliard
From the collection of the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool
As for the other, we did verily discover that
the Court – like all Courts – was a nest of duplicitous and evil snakes. We did explain one notable event which did
lead us downward. For, as we explained, ‘I fell in love!’ And the young
scholars did sigh most sympathetically on hearing this word.
Yet, was this our great undoing. For our
Sovereign Lady Elizabeth, beautiful though she was, was what may be called in
common parlance ‘a control freak’. And
she was mightily displeased that we had wed in secret our beloved Bess, who was
one of her ladies-in-waiting.
And thus it was, as we explained to the
young scholars, that Queen Elizabeth did command that we both be committed to
the Tower of London.
Yet another ladder did we mention: namely
our discovery of asphalt in the Pitch Lake on the Island of Trinidad, which
hath allowed peoples of the world to travel in comfort on smooth roads.
the young scholars of the honour bestowed on us by the Post Office of Trinidad
and Tobago in designing this postage stamp. More worthy of memory, we feel, than the ‘spuds
and ciggies’ that the vulgar multitude do too easily associate with our name.
At the re-enactment of Millais' 'The Boyhood of Raleigh' on Budleigh beach, 28 May 2018
Photo by Rob Coombe for Matt Austin Images
To such discoveries, we pointed out, may be
added our achievements such as the creation of the Great Republic of the United
States of America. A long ladder indeed!
For true it is that our colony of Roanoke
did lead to furtherance of English speaking in the New World. And we are told
that our great book The Historie of the World did inspire the founding fathers
of the American nation to reject the rule of tyrant kings.
But such knowledge was perchance a trifle advanced
for our young scholars.
Dame Lizzie did then invite us to give out
certificates to the worthy young scholars who had achieved great things in the
science of such areas as mathematics and swimming – both being most useful to
young explorers. Indeed did we commend to all that they strive to be polymaths –
like our good self!
Photo: Lizzie Mee
Later, we did address a small group of
scholars to impart further words of wisdom. They did seem verily curious as to
the quantity of pearls sewn on our doublet: we did explain the symbolism of
such pearls to be found in portraits of our Sovereign Lady Elizabeth.
Photo: Lizzie Mee
Likewise did we show the pearls on the
rings which adorn our bejewelled hands.
One young scholar proudly declared she had
seen our portrait in the church of All Saints in our village of East Budleigh
and had even sat in my pew.
(This portrait, of course, is used on the label of the excellent Raleigh 400 ale brewed in our name, but we did not mention that to the young scholars).
We did recommend that they visit the Museum of
Fairlynch, there to see our famous portrait of ‘The Boyhood’ as created by Sir
In this chromolithograph credited to the New England Chromo. Lith. Company, around 1870, Pocahontas saves the life of John Smith
And a strange footnote to all this. For we did learn from one of the teachers that she herself was descended from the family
of the Princess Pocohantas, whom we had the good fortune of meeting in London.
see here a portrait of the Princess, which we noted by curious coincidence was
painted in the year of 1870, like ‘The Boyhood’. And the cleverer of our young
scholars will be quick to point out that both are works of fine fiction.
We look forward to our next visit to a
place of learning in this fair county of Devon: in the fair village of
Awliscombe on the sixteenth day of this month. And so fare thee well, faithful reader. PS. A nice comment from teacher Suzy Crane:
What a lovely piece. The children ( and staff) thoroughly enjoyed the visit. They have been inspired ever since to work away at the board games and find out lots more about Sir Walter! Thank you so much for visiting us.