The New World Tapestry

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cene Two
         1607 PANEL

Sir Henry Montagu, an important backer of the London Virginia Company is a graduate of Christ’s College in Cambridge – hence the illustration of its beautiful gateway. The notice ‘Ye Cam’ refers to the river running behind the colleges, ‘the Backs’ area in the town. Made an MP in 1601, knighted in 1603, called to the Bar last year and appointed King Councel this year, Montagu will be remembered as the judge who in 1618 sentenced Sir Walter Raleigh to death.

The butterfly shown in the scene is the male Purple Hairstreak.

To avoid jealous arguments among the expedition’s leaders on the voyage across the Atlantic as to the positions they will be given in the colony, the Company has cleverly sealed the official written appointments in a casket to be read out by Newport once they have decided a permanent location for settlement. The final site being agreed, the box is opened and Bartholomew Gosnold, Edward Maria Wingfield, Christopher Newport, John Smith, John Radcliffe, John Martin and George Kendall are named as Councillors. They have to choose a President among them for a year with decisions needing a majority to pass and the President having two votes. However, Smith is not allowed to vote and is dismissed from the Council because of the unrest he caused on the way over by arguing with Newport. For this Newport held the troublemaker under arrest and in chains until they reached Virginia. So now it’s the others who elect Wingfield as their new leader, before everyone sets about the task of defending their settlement which they name Jamestown, in honour of King James. It’s a daunting challenge. The conditions are absolutely appalling as they struggle in the strength-draining sweltering humid heat and battle with millions of mosquitoes to set up a temporary brushwood barricade. Hopefully it will protect them during the buiding of the stronger, permanent, triangular fort.

The test soon comes when 200 Indians mount a surprise attack on the colonists on the 26th. The English are in real danger of being completely wiped out. However, an extremely lucky cannon shot smashes a huge bough down from a tree and the explosion frightens off the attackers. Nevertheless, 17 settlers are wounded and, as shown, one boy is killed.


1607 scene two tapestry photo

FURZE (GORSE) Ulex Europeus.  The seeds are used in medicines and in Devon and Cornwall the furze spines crushed in cider mills maketh valuable winter feeding for cattle. Anon.

BINDWEED Convolvulus.  It cleanseth and draweth forth especially choler: also thinne and waterist humours. Gerard.

PELLITORY (WALL) Parietaria diffusa. The juice, mixed with honey is useful for many aches, pains and coughs and stoppeth the hair from falling out. Culpeper.

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