The New World Tapestry

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cene Five
    1635-41 PANEL


This scene mainly concerns the influential Pole family, whose estate is at Shute Barton near Colyton in Devon because it is Elizabeth Pole who founds Taunton in Massachusetts, named after the town in Southwest England.

Elizabeth’s grandmother was Catherine, one Sir John Popham’s six daughters, so Popham’s Plymouth Adventurers Company has been more than of just a casual interest of Elizabeth’s father Sir William Pole, for he was an Incorporator of the third Virginia Charter. He was also a staunch Royalist and Anglican but his religious views are challenged by his children Elizabeth and her brother William after they came under the influence of the Rev William Hooke, the ultra-Puritan Vicar of Axmouth. So now, in 1636, her father has died and she and her brother have decided to emigrate to America with Hooke. Alongside them in the scene is the family coat-of-arms shown on the funeral hatchment on the wall, hung there for three months, as is the custom, to pay respect to the head of an important family when he dies. (There are  hatchments still to be seen in very many English churches).

It’s 49 year old spinster Elizabeth who is the real driving force in the American enterprise that follows, for when she and William reach Dorchester in Massachusetts it is her who contacts and negotiates with Indian Chief Massasoit of the Tecticutt tribe to sell her 45 acres of his land some 26 miles from new Plymouth. The cost? 7 coats, 9 hatchets, 8 hoes, 20 knives, 4 moose skins and 10½ yards of cotton. John Winthrop records in his Journal afterwards that, ‘….Mistress Poole. She went thither and endured much hardship and lost much cattle.’ Nevertheless she survives, creates a town, builds a church and, as shown, encourages many newcomers to join her. She’s a success.

Top right. Still existing today is the Tudor Tavern in England’s Taunton. It was owned by Thomas Trowbridge who’s seen showing his wife and 3 sons a map of Virginia before they emigrated in 1636. Thomas returned in 1641 but his sons stayed on to carve out more rewarding lives in the New World, in the spirit of the patentees of the original 10 April 1606 Virginia Charter.


WAYFARING TREE  Viburnum lantana.    ‘You can eate the fruite when they go blacke, with no ille consequences…….or pleasure ’. Gerard.

SWEET WOODRUFFE  Galium odoratum.  In the Highlands, Woodruff tea has been popular for sweating against colds, consumption, etc. Anon

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