In later life, Sir Walter Ralegh is mainly celebrated as one of Queen Elizabeth I’s favourites. On your way to Hayes Barton you can admire this sign outside the East Budleigh pub named after the village’s best known former resident.
The pub sign recalls one of many stories about Sir Walter’s life at the Elizabethan court when he laid his cloak over a puddle as the Queen approached.
Sir Walter is also celebrated for his pioneering attempts at colonising the Americas.
On loan from Bristol Museums and Art Gallery are arrowheads, a spearhead, axe heads and a hatchet used by North American Indians on the eastern seaboard of America. The axe heads date from before 1607. Such items recall expeditions like the ill-fated 1584 attempt to colonise Roanoke Island in North Carolina in which Ralegh was involved.
The photo of actors playing the parts of Queen Elizabeth, Sir Walter and two American Indians shows a scene from The Lost Colony, a play performed each evening during the summer on Roanoke Island.
The play is America’s longest running outdoor drama. This photo, on display at Bicton Countryside Museum, was presented to Lord Clinton by the Roanoke Historical Association to mark the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the first of Sir Walter’s ships to Roanoke Island on 27 April 1584.
In retrospect there is a tragic undertone in Fairlynch’s copy of this painting by an unknown artist of Sir Walter and his son Walt in 1602.
Fifteen years later the boy was fatally shot during the expedition to the Orinoco River in Guyana, when a detachment of Ralegh's men under the command of his long-time friend Lawrence Keymis attacked the Spanish outpost of Santo Tomé de Guayana.
This was in violation of peace treaties with Spain, and against Ralegh's orders. Keymis informed Ralegh of his son's death and begged for forgiveness, but did not receive it, and at once committed suicide.
On Ralegh's return to England, an outraged Spanish ambassador, demanded that Sir Walter’s death sentence be reinstated by King James.
We also have a display of smokers’ pipes as a reminder of Ralegh’s association with tobacco.