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cene Four
         1595-6 PANEL

This is almost Tom Mor’s favourite scene in the entire 267’ of the Tapestry, the result as he used to say of ‘having his drawing boots on’ when he designed it. Firstly he wanted to get away from the usual depiction of a sea battle where the opposing ships stand broadside on knocking seven bells out of each other.

Secondly he wanted to emphasise that it wasn’t just an English fleet that were involved. The Dutch were there too as the Dutch flags on the mastheads of each alternate man-o-war makes apparent.

Thirdly, Mor wanted to show that the return Armada was attacking Spain itself, so King Philip’s portrait crowns the scene whilst the houses of the city that the fleets are bombarding are roofed in typically Spanish style.

The attack in June is very successful. The dreaded fire ships are sent in first, causing havoc and soon followed by a land assault, equally successful for the English and Dutch in general but for Raleigh, a personal disaster for he receives a very bad leg wound from which he will recover but will pain him for the rest of his life.

Two other notables are named on this panel with their coats-of-arms illustrated. Sir Francis Vere (in Scene 2) and Sir George Carew in this one.

Born at Ottery St Mary in Devon, Sir George Carew is the Earl of Totnes and has gone on the Cadiz expedition as Marshall of the Ordinance and has written a detailed account of the venture. This will lay unnoticed in the library of Lambeth Palace until the 1970’s when his importance will be realised and be published as a book compiled and written by Stephen and Elizabeth Isherwood and called the COUNTER ARMADA 1596. Carew will die in 1629 and be buried at Stratford-on-Avon.

Sir Francis Vere of Castle Heddingham in Essex is Lord Marshall of the land forces and Lieutenant General in the expedition. Next year – 1597 – he will get to the Azores. In 1606 he will be appointed Governor of Portsmouth, die three years later and be buried in Westminster Abbey and have a memorial erected to his memory there.

tapestry photo 1595-6 scene four

WATER LILY   Nymphaea alba.  For Elizabethan apothecaries the plant was the source of oils and distillations of nenuphar, used in the treatment of skin blemishes and sunburn, baldness and feminine disorders.

FLAX  Linum sativum.  ‘Being taken largely with peper and hony made into a cake, it stirreth up lust’. Gerard.

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