Most fascinating of all the important people that the Rolfes encounter is Sir Walter Raleigh, the visionary who instigated
Virginian colonisation back in the eighties but, incredibly, has never set foot there. At present, it is not surprising. He
has been King james’ prisoner, locked in the Tower of London since 1603 (see 1602-3 panel). Sir George More,
the Tower’s Governor escorts them to Raleigh’s apartment cell where the visit starts with the men enjoying smoking
the Rolfe’s present, a gift of their Virginian tobacco. Later their positive accounts of Jamestown’s prospects
reinforce Sir Walter’s determination to petition the King to allow him his freedom to try again to find gold in South
America next year.
The hectic social whirl means not only being formally wined and dined by such dignitaries as Sir John Leman, Lord Mayor
of London but relaxing and enjoying the City’s cultural scene, particularly the theatre. Shakespeare, the world’s
greatest dramatist dies this year, in April. His plays used to be performed at the Globe Theatre at Southwark, burnt down
three years ago. There is street theatre to enjoy too, performed by mummers on holy days – holidays. Then there are
masques put on at court and, as shown, Pocahontas takes part in one, Ben Johnson’s ‘Vision of Delight’,
even though she has fallen ill. Very ill. Soon she starts coughing up blood. Physicians are useless. It’s a death sentence.
The two butterflies shown
next to ‘Shakespeare’s birthplace’ are: left: the Brown hairstreak (Thecla betulae) and right: the Holly
blue (Celastina argiolus). It is not certain that the building, which is in Stratford-on-Avon in Warwickshire is, in fact,
the house where Shakespeare was born. That is why there is a question mark in the smoke coming from the chimney.
Many of Shakespeare’s
plays, the greatest in the English language, were first performed at the original Globe Theatre built in Southwark in 1599.
In 1613 it was destroyed by fire when a spark from a stage cannon used in a performance of Henry VIII set light to the thatched
roof. It was not rebuilt until 400yrs later, when, in 1996, inspired by the determination of actor and director Sam Wannamaker
and the dedication of all those involved with the Shakespeare Globe Trust, it opened for theatregoers.