It is 5 March 1605 as the ship Archangel pictured at the top here leaves Gravesend at
the mouth of the River Thames bound for Dartmouth in Devon, for more supplies en route to survey the coast of Maine in America,
and to suss out areas for settlement.
Her Captain is George Weymouth, another Devon navigator and explorer whose home is Cockington near
Torquay. Cockington is celebrated here by its famous blacksmith’s forge (still existing) where a horse is shown
being shod. Note the thatched roof of the forge which has a regular pattern on it. All thatchers have their own trademark,
putting their own signature into the thatch (the pattern shown here is that on the roof of Tom Mor’s son’s
cottage – Appletree Cottage at Bourn in Cambridge in 1988).
The church shown is St Saviour’s in Dartmouth which, as depicted
stands on a steep hill. It has many, many old nautical connections and is a treasure trove well worth
visiting. Memorials and windows tell of tragedies at sea and the west gallery incorporates panels from Spanish ships,
Armada flags, coats-of-arms and a clock while the nave has seventeenth century bench ends.
Weymouth (arms shown here) learned in
the shipbuilder’s trade, having been taught by his father, has also gained a good knowledge of the North Atlantic. Three
years ago he sailed with John Davis of Sandridge near Totnes, to explore Arctic waters, seeking the North-West Passage. However,
foul weather caused a mutiny forcing the abandonment of the enterprise. Despite the setback his enthusiasm for finding the
elusive, quicker way to the Far East is undermined and he seeks sponsors.
Last year he presented a treatise to King James, explaining the explorer-coloniser’s
essential need for a knowledge of navigational instruments, shipbuilding, machinery, gunnery and fortification. That’s
why, as an example in this centre scene he’s shown using the 45º navigational back staff. Weymouth’s enthusiasm
has led him to being funded for this year’s expedition by such influential backers as Sir Thomas Arundell (arms
shown scene two), Sir Ferdinando Gorges (arms scene four) and Henry Wriothesley, Earl of
Southampton (arms shown here).
So the time has now arrived, March 31, when the Archangel in Dartmouth has
been loaded up with more provisions and Weymouth orders the anchors to be weighed. This means it’s ‘hands to the
capstan’ (lower scene). Made of wood the capstan’s bars are not at right angles to each other and though
there are three holes which the bars pass through, only two are being used here.