Home | In Drake's Wake

The Drake Exploration Society

Drake at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

Susan Jackson and Michael Turner

Last Whitsun we visited this museum to gaze at more of Drake's possessions.

The Drake Star/ Sun Jewel

The Drake Star/ Sun Jewel

The Drake Star/ Sun Jewel

This was another new year's gift from the queen to Sir Francis. Interestingly Drake received the gift in 1590; which proves that he could not have been in "disgrace" which some authors have represented him as being as a result of the failed Portugal voyage. It seems that the queen was constantly appreciative of Drake for his services to the country, whether as England's greatest sailor or the civic leader and parliamentarian. The jewel is a gold pendant star with pointed and waving rays set with rubies. It has a gold, diamond and enamel inlay and in the centre is a ruby seal engraved with intaglio and surrounded by borders of opals. It is possible that the seal may have been one of Queen Elizabeth's own seals. On the back of the pendant is a miniature head and shoulders portrait of the queen. The pendant is on loan. Even Susan Jackson has never seen the above illustration in print.

The Mariner's Mirror

A book of sea charts and advice to mariners first published in 1588 in Leiden, Holland by Lucas Jansz Wagheister and dedicated to Sir Francis Drake. After this the English nicknamed any book of the sea charts and maps a "Wagheister" or "Waggoner".

The Marcus Gheeraerts's Drake portrait

This oil on canvas masterpiece, protected by glass is located in the adjacent Queen's Building. This was painted in 1591 and shows Drake wearing the Drake Jewel as displayed at the Victoria and Albert Museum. As Sugden states, Drake was uncertain which crest to use for his coat of arms, so he omitted it from the painting. On the lower frame the dates of Drake's life are 1540-1596.

The Drake Cup

The Drake Cup

The Drake Cup

As a souvenir of the circumnavigation, Drake gave Queen Elizabeth a coconut. She had the coconut engraved and mounted in silver-gilt and returned it to Drake as a new year's gift in 1583. The coconut contains three engravings: the Golden Hind at Ternate is being towed by Sultan Babulah's canoes; the Tudor coat of arms and Drake's coat of arms. The cup has a silver gilt lid with a globe at the top, surmounted by a miniature replica of the Golden Hind. The stem of the cup is supported by a wyvern from Drake's coat of arms or as a visible representation of his Spanish nickname - El Draco, meaning the dragon.

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