The New World Tapestry

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cene Four
    1602-03 PANEL



The settlers on Cuttyhunk Island sow their first crops of wheat, barley and peas and are amazed when, 14 days later the plants stand 9 inches high and more. They also begin to trade furs with the Massachusett Indians but what takes their eyes and fancy are the white cedar and sassafras trees. These they know will make up an excellent cargo to sell back in England when Bartholomew Gilbert goes back to England to fetch new supplies.

The sassafras root and bark is in great demand in England as a popular medicine and cure-all and highly profitable at £336 per ton. So the top scene shows it being harvested and loaded aboard the Concord. However whilst this is underway a crisis arises when an inventory shows that it would leave the colonists desperately short. The fault is Gilbert’s mismanagement and this setback, coupled with the fact that the colonists are beginning to distrust the natives makes them decide to give up the venture and return home. After all, if it came to a fight against overwhelming numbers from local tribes bent on their destruction, 32 whites would have no chance. As soon as the cedar and sassafras are safely stowed away, the anchor is raised and a course set for home.

Despite his mishandling of the Cape Cod supplies Gilbert will set out again on his own in 1603 and sail to Chesapeake Bay in search of the lost colonists of Roanoke. It will be his undoing for venturing ashore with four crewmen he will be killed by Algonquan Indians on July 29.

Now look to Scene 5 before returning for a description of the lower scene here.

The lower picture marks the end of a momentous reign in what will come to be regarded as the start of England’s mastery of sea power leading to the downfall of Spain’s empire and the genesis of England’s.

It is now 24 March 1603. At 3 o’clock in the morning, in the 70th year of her age, the 45th of her reign, Queen Elizabeth dies and James VI of Scotland, James I of England is proclaimed king. Bess’ funeral is recorded here where, on April 28, in Westminster Abbey her effigy in coloured wax lies on top of the catafalque which shrouds her coffin. She is depicted holding the symbols of state, the orb and sceptre. The gentlemen-at-arms in funeral robes guard the bier, with pikes reversed. The banner held by one hooded mourner is stiffened and edged with black fur. The other holds a huge spoon used in the waxing operation. In the foreground are coils of  wax.

tapestry photo 1602-3 scene four

PLYMOUTH THISTLE   Carduus pycnocephalus.   Classed as a noxious weed.

BUTTERCUP  Ranunculus.  It is reported that on May Day the Irish used to rub the flowers on the cow’s udder.

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