Sir Francis Drake was born only a few miles from Yelverton near Tavistock where the remains of a great Benedictine Monastery founded around 974 by the Saxon King Edgar can still be seen. Drake’s first exploits were associated with seafaring and it was in 1566 that he sailed to the Spanish Main for the first time. It was also from Plymouth that Drake with the permission of Queen Elizabeth I sailed on 13 December 1577 in the ‘Pelican’, later renamed the ‘Golden Hind’, on a 3 year voyage that circumnavigated the world. During this voyage he claimed on 17 June 1579 for the Queen the land of ‘Nova Albion’, believed to have been at Drake’s Bay in California but now thought to be in Oregon some 500 miles further north at Whale Cove.
From the treasures amassed on his voyage the Queen, through gifts, made Drake a rich man enabling him to buy a substantial house. His choice was a property near Yelverton called Buckland Abbey which today is run by the National Trust. The name Buckland means ‘land in the book’, that is land held by Royal Charter in this case from 1278 until the Dissolution of the Monasteries by the Cistercian Monks. The monastic church was converted into a home by Sir Richard Grenville who like Drake was a West Country man. It was this gentleman who in August 1585 founded a colony in America on Roanoke Island off the coast of North Carolina. Sadly, for various reasons, the colony failed and was facing starvation when it was unexpectedly rescued by Sir Francis Drake in June 1586. On 24 April 1581 the Golden Hind was moored in London when the Queen came on board and had Drake knighted by the French Ambassador. The 2 Royal Standards that flew on the ship that day are on display at Buckland Abbey as is the 16th century side drum believed to have been used on his last expedition in 1595 and known as Drake’s Drum.
The above pictures are of the great barn at Buckland Abbey.