The New World Tapestry

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cene Two
    1609-10 PANEL

Backing the expedition is wealthy Cornish mine owner Sir William Godolphin in Cornwall. It is his house, dating from 1475 that is pictured here. Sir William is not on the voyage but Sir Thomas Gates, the Governor of Virginia is. Gates is accompanied by soldier George Yeardley from Southwark in London (and future Knight and Governor), together with Jamestown’s secretary John Rolfe from Heacham in Norfolk. All three are among the company of about 150 ‘Gentlemen adventurers’, sailors, women and children aboard Somers flagship, the 300-ton ‘Sea Venture’ when, seven weeks into the voyage on Sunday, 23 July, disaster strikes.

A huge storm hits them, increasing in volume from the north-east which scatters the fleet. The ‘Sea Venture’ now alone and fiercely battered by the huge seas starts to leak so badly that soon there is nine feet of water above the ballast in the hold before anyone is properly aware of the danger. Panic. Panic. All hands to the pumps but these soon become useless, choked up. Now every man takes his turn, day in and day out, desperately bailing until the morning of Friday, 28 July when the shout goes up from the look-out, ‘Land Ho!’.

Throughout the storm no observations can be taken so the mariners have no idea whatsoever of their position in the ocean and thus are amazed to find that they have been driven to the much dreaded Islands of the Bermudas. Somers orders the helmsman to bear up and presently the sailor swinging and heaving his lead line for the third time has ground (finds the sea bed) at a depth of four fathoms. However, by now the stricken vessel is within a mile under the south-east point of land and heading for the rocks. Nothing can save her, so with shouted prayers for deliverance to the Almighty, they have no alternative but to run the ship ashore. Three quarters, a half, then a quarter mile off the beach, jammed upright between two rocks. This miracle allows everyone aboard to escape ashore without a single loss of life and where, as William Strachey will record later that Governor Gates ‘did first leape ashore’ for the area to become named as ‘Gates his Bay’.


tapestry photo 1609_10 scene two

ORACH Antriplex patula. ‘It is eaten boyled as other sallad herbes are and that it softened and looseth the belly.’ Dioscorides

HORNED POPPY Papaver cornutum flore luteo  ‘the seed taken in the quantity of the spoonful looseth the belly gently.’ Gerard.

GENTIAN (Marsh) Gentiana pneumonanthe It is reported to be good for those troubled with crampes and convulsions.’

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