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You are in: Devon > Features > Feature Articles > Sir Walter's legacy

Sir Walter Raleigh

Sir Walter Raleigh

Sir Walter's legacy

Seafarer Sir Walter Raleigh is said to have brought tobacco and potatoes to Brtiain - but it didn't stop him from being beheaded for treason.

East Budleigh's most famous son, Sir Walter Raleigh (1554-1618)  lived a very full life.

Born in 1554 - or thereabouts - Raleigh (also spelt Ralegh) was destined for fame and fortune and, ultimately, the chop.

His main occupation was as a seafarer and explorer, but he wasn't averse to the odd bit of piracy.

He managed to wangle his way into Queen Elizabeth I's favoured circle. The Queen saw use of him as a politician and sent him to Ireland to suppress an uprising.

He once, famously - according to legend - laid down his cloak so the Queen did not have to step into a muddy puddle.

But it was his trip to the New World in 1585 which really endeared him to the Queen.

The statue of Sir Walter Raleigh

The statue of Sir Walter Raleigh in East Budleigh

His ship landed on the east coast of America, and Raleigh named the area Virginia, after the Virgin Queen.

Following his expeditions, he returned with tobacco and potatoes - which he took great delight in presenting to the Queen, who knighted him.

Raleigh apparently believed that smoking tobacco was a cure for coughing!

He also built a ship called Ark Ralegh, which he gave to the Queen.

She re-named it Ark Royal, which was the flagship during the spat with the Spanish Armada. The name continues in the Royal Navy.

Unfortunately for Raleigh, the Queen demanded 100% attention, and she never forgave him for getting married. Raleigh and his wife were sent to the Tower for punishment.

Worse was to come. Elizabeth's successor, James I, didn't like or trust him and he had him beheaded for treason in 1618.

His violent end didn't stop him being commemorated with a statue outside the Ministry of Defence building in London.

The statue was taken down in 2001, and its new resting place is the former Royal Naval College at Greenwich.

Back home in East Budleigh, a 6ft statue of Raleigh was commissioned from renowned sculptress Vivien Mallock.

The bronze cast is mounted opposite All Saints Church in the village, on a plinth of stone from Stoneycombe quarry.

Fittingly, the £30,000 sculpture was part funded by British American Tobacco - in a nod to the legend of Raleigh's role in bringing tobacco to the UK.

last updated: 31/01/2008 at 14:24
created: 31/01/2008

You are in: Devon > Features > Feature Articles > Sir Walter's legacy

Sir Walter Raleigh

1554 Walter Raleigh born in Hayes Barton, Devon
1578 Walter Raleigh sails with his half brother to America
1580 Raleigh is knighted
1595 Sails to Guiana to search for the city of El Dorado (the city of gold)
1616 Raleigh travels to Guina. His mission fails and he attacks a Spanish settlement
1618 Sir Walter Raleigh is beheaded for attacking the Spanish.

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