The New World Tapestry

Home | *NEW* 1619 Panel | History | Tapestry Panels 1583 - 1603 | Tapestry Panels 1605 - 1618 | Tapestry Panels 1619 - 1642 | Tapestry Exhibition | Adventurers for Virginia | Colour Codes | Gallery 1 | Gallery 2

Back to 1583 Menu


cene One
         1583 PANEL

This panel concerning the year of our Lord 1583 is number one in the series of 24 that go to make up the enormous 267 ft length of the panoramic Tapestry. As will soon become apparent there are five scenes on each panel and this, the very first of all, records that particular day in March1583, the seventh, when an audience at Court is given to Sir Walter Raleigh by Queen Elizabeth. It resulted in the genesis of the British Empire.


Raleigh is an especial favourite of the Queen, not least because he’s the visionary promoter of schemes to set up English colonies in the New World for the very first time. The Dons are already bringing back treasure ship after treasure ship, laden with fabulous gold booty stolen from the South American Indians. Bess therefore wants a share of the action too but in areas not yet controlled by the Spanish.


Raleigh’s first choice however seems rather puzzling, Newfoundland. There’s no precious metal to be filched there but there’s plenty of silvery fish, so much as to make sizable fortunes for enterprising merchants and sea captains before he turns his attention to mainland America. That is why the Queen has finally given the green light to Raleigh’s cousin Sir Humphrey Gilbert to assemble an expedition fleet at Plymouth in Devon to cross the North Atlantic and take Newfoundland for the Crown as its first colony.


So the scene shows the Queen commanding Raleigh to write to his cousin wishing him every success in the coming venture and, as a mark of her regard and favour also to convey to Gilbert her royal present of a necklace of gold with a pendant shaped like an anchor hanging from it.


Two of the Tower of London’s yeomen warders stand on guard nearby. On their tunics are the letters ER – Elizabeth Regina. A portrait of the Queen’s father King Henry VIII looks down from the wall. Waiting outside the palace is the Queen’s Messenger, ready to speed the letter and gift westwards for over 300 miles to Sir Humphrey’s home at Compton Castle in South Devon. His route will be a winding one, shown here complete with dollops of horse manure on it for realism. En route he will, amongst other places, change horses in Totnes and a house there is featured, which centuries later will become a museum. This panel was stitched in Totnes.

tapestry photo 1583 scene one panel

COMMON MALLOW  Malva sylvestris.  ‘The leaves of Mallowes are good against the stinging of Scorpions, Bees, Wasps and such like’. Gerard.

JESSAMINE  Jasminum luteum.  ‘The oile which is made of the floures hereof, wafteth away raw humors, and is good against cold rheumes’. Gerard.

BISTORT  Polygonum bistorta .   The root contains a high level of tannin, used for tanning leather. Nicholas Culpeper  recommended it as a cure for toothache.

Click here for further Wikipedia information