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The Drake Broadside

Exploring Drake's world

At home and abroad

Michael Turner

Borringdon Hall, Devon

Borringdon Hall, Devon

This was the home of privateer, William Parker. In the autumn of 1587, he held a banquet in honour of Drake’s Cadiz - Sagres expedition. Drake was the main guest. The illustrious gathering included: Raleigh, Grenville, the Hawkins brothers, Harris, Hele, Champernowne, Sparke, Carew and Bassett. In a room adjoining the great hall, is a convincing wall painting depicting Drake at the banquet. Drake would have passed beneath the surviving door arches and some of the furniture dates from the period. Inside the main entrance is an information panel mentioning Drake’s visit and the incorrect account of a visit by Queen Elizabeth I. The queen did not venture west of Bristol.

Susan Jackson first brought this lesser known Drake haunt to the attention of the Society. The building is situated a kilometre north of Plympton and is now a hotel. Boringdon is well worth a visit. Meals and drinks are always available. Car parking spoils efforts to secure timeless pictures. The Editor can provide timeless photographs and slides if members so require. These pictures were achieved by all cars being moved for a morning. It took six months to achieve this difficult task. We needed a day when there were fewer cars to move and the weather forecast was favourable.

Guatulco, Mexico

Guatulco, Mexico

This was Drake’s last Latin port of call during the circumnavigation. Here Drake obtained water, freed three Negroes during court proceedings, stripped the church of its ornaments and released Nuño da Silva from his service. The editor reached Guatulco in 1983 when it was difficult to find. Michael only located the cove, when in Mexico, by finding road map in a car, in which he had hitched a ride. Mr Aker of the Drake Navigators Guild had furnished Michael with a map of the cove, that proved that he had reached the correct location. This idyllic, coral cove, enveloped by dense jungle, housed a few thatched huts and had altered very little since Drake’s arrival.

By 1993, Guatulco had developed into a tourist village, complete with a yacht marina and hotel. However, sufficient "Drake" geography remains. There is a yellow sand beach. The jungle coastline that would have surrounded the anchored Golden Hind remains intact. One can hire a small motor boat and venture into the Pacific Ocean, for a Drake’s view of the inviting haven. Guatulco is a "Drake holiday" in paradise.

My Introduction to Drake

Harry Wilson

My previous knowledge of his exploits were limited and strictly schoolboy. It was in 1970 whilst on holiday in Scotland that I was made aware of the scale of Drake's achievements. I had ran out of reading material and visited a second-hand bookshop. In the area marked "history", I noticed Sir Francis Drake by Malcom Thomson which I eagerly read. Thomson regarded Drake as an Elizabethan "great" capturing the heroic quality and genius of the man setting him apart from his contemporaries and, for me, most of the "greats" of the centuries that followed. Thomson's book was a revelation. I was so inspired by Drake's bravery and daring exploits realising that he had not been accorded his rightful place in British history. Since Thomson, I have read fourteen more books. I became very interested about Drake crossing the Atlantic Ocean during his world voyage. Drake experienced a discontented crew which culminated with dramatic events at San Julián in Argentina. Drake wintered here and tried and executed Thomas Doughty.

In November 1996 my wife and I, accompanied with two Welsh friends, a four week tour of Patagonia. Four days were spent at San Julián. We arrived by air. The pilots very kindly took photographs of the bay but only associated San Julián with Magellan. The tourist office had organised our visit. Our driver took us all around the bay. Later we were ferried by boat to the Island of True Justice. This island comprises loose shingle and was populated by thousands of birds - particularly cormorants. Their droppings reeked so much that our nostrils never adjusted to the smell. As we walked over the island, we tried to imagine the scene of Drake's encampment and the beheading of mutineer, gentleman adventurer Thomas Doughty who was buried on this island. We returned to the tourist office how to boost tourism with a focus on the visits by Magellan, Drake, Anson and Darwin.

My readings and visit to San Julián have inspired me to give illustrated talks on Drake.

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