Monday, November 4, 2019

Plymouth and The Sea Venture




As we continued our Golden Anniversary celebration in England we wanted to visit Plymouth.  Plymouth is located in Devon in the southwest and is very well known for its maritime history.  I knew its rich history long before we planned our anniversary trip.  I also knew this special city would tear at my heartstrings.



Driving down into the Barbican area we see how ancient this city has remained.  Finding a place to safely park on the cobbled streets proved to be a challenge, but soon we are parked and ready to walk about the old city of Plymouth.  



Plymouth is a large seaport and home to British naval bases.  It's been that way for a long time.  Beginning with Britain defeating the Spanish Armada and becoming a world power, Plymouth found her place in history.  From a small settlement surrounding Sutton Harbor, the early town spread toward the center that was defended by walls along a castle overlooking the entrance to the harbor.  The Barbican or outer defence of the castle still stands as testament to the many ships that sailed from this port city.


 Many of the buildings from the Elizabethan era still stand.  



Seeing Bob Marley's words in the window made me smile wishing that dream for our world.


Walking to the harbor we see the famous Mayflower steps!  From this area the Mayflower sailed out of Plymouth in 1620.  The stone canopy was designed by J. Wibberley with doric columns.  The Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes flank the memorial.  The Mayflower had set sail from Southampton and then went on to Dartmouth and then came to Plymouth for repairs before sailing to the New World.

  


Next year marks the 400th anniversary of the sailing.

I really wanted to visit Plymouth because my ancestor sailed from Plymouth on June 2nd, 1609.  I knew he walked these same streets on his way to board the Sea Venture.  He boarded the Sea Venture along with 149 other souls on his way to help the starving souls in the Jamestown Colony.  Unfortunately the Sea Venture met with a terrible storm on July 24th.  It probably was a hurricane.  The ship crashed near Bermuda and miraculously none of the souls on board perished!  Sir George Somers was at the helm during the storm and headed the ship into Discovery Bay allowing the Sea Venture to carry its precious cargo to land instead of sinking into the Atlantic.  During the nine months on the island of Bermuda, the crew built two ships.  The Deliverance and the Patience were built out of the cedar that they found.  Also the wrecked pieces of the Sea Venture were used as it washed ashore.  William Shakespeare's play The Tempest is said to be written from the inspiration of the wreck of the Sea Venture.


I can't began to tell you how touched I was seeing this engraving right next to the Mayflower steps.  Emotion filled my heart as I was surprised to see the memorial to the Sea Venture.  This story is obscure, but one I've heard about my whole life.  Oh, how I wish my Nanny could see this!







We decided to walk up the Barbican to take in the views.



Looking onto the open ocean, I couldn't help but think of my ancestor.  He looked at this ocean as he began a journey that he had no awareness of what was about to happen. 



Riding back to our home away from home the patchwork fields of England of late Autumn continue to thrill my soul.  My soul is part of this area.  I feel it and it makes me happy.


That evening we had to step outside and view the full harvest moon.  I'll never forget this day.  A day of remembering those that came before me.  














33 comments:

  1. Oh my word, dear ME - what a wonderful post! I knew none of this and am so glad to learn it! And may you both enjoy your very special anniversary year. That in itself is just awesome - people just don't seem to want to stay together anymore. Bless you both. ♥♥

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    1. Michele, thank you for your kind wishes. I'm so glad to share history that is sometimes forgotten. ♥

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  2. More great memories for me, thank you Martha Ellen. My feet have been planted right where yours were. Sir Francis Drake spotted the Spanish Armada approaching as he was playing a game of bowls. I enjoyed reading about your ancestor who set sail on the Sea Venture, so touching, and did not know its connection to The Tempest. There is a plaque of names that show my mother-in-law's ancestor who came over with the Mayflower.

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    1. Denise, I love hearing about Sir Frances Drake playing bowls as the Armada approached. How scary that must have been! I'm so glad to hear you have visited the Barbican and especially with the connection to your family and the Mayflower! ♥

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  3. What a wonderful post! You're so lucky to know that your ancestor sailed from that place to start a new life and you're here because of it. I guess most of us have a similar story but with different ships and different ports. Thanks for sharing such a meaningful trip. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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    1. You are so right that many of us have similar stories, Teresa! I must say it's a thrill to me to know these facts and pass them along to my grandchildren. Genealogy tells an amazing tale, doesn't it? ♥

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  4. Oh, Martha Ellen, I am sitting here sobbing my heart out. What a story you tell, what amazing family history, and to have connected to it in Plymouth, you must have been in a puddle of emotion. My oldest friend now lives in Plymouth, so maybe I will visit her during next year's celebrations. I am incredulous that the Mayflower needed repair from the short journey from Southampton and then set sail across the wide blue ocean with all it's unknown dangers. What brave hearts they had.

    ~~~Waving~~~From Across the Pond~~~Deb in Wales xoxo

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    1. Deb, you should have seen me that day in Plymouth! My photo that day doesn't really convey how emotional I was. It's unbelievable to me that my ancestor survived a storm at sea and lived to reach Jamestown on another ship after building one in Bermuda! If that isn't tenacity, I don't know what is. It would be wonderful if you could visit your friend in Plymouth during the 400 year anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower! xoxo ♥

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  5. What joy to visit this Plymouth for all the connections. I had not heard the story of the Sea Venture. This is a city that I’d enjoy visiting (if I didn’t have to travel) for similar reasons.

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    1. Plymouth holds the connection for many of us, doesn't it? It's all quite incredible to me. ♥

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  6. So much history there at Plymouth! It is easy for me to see how this visit would stir your emotions . . . seeing in person this tie to your past! I find the story of the Sea Venture fascinating! We read the account from several different sources (including reading The Tempest) in our years of homeschooling, but your personal connection would make it even more fascinating and meaningful!

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    1. I am thrilled to know you included the Sea Venture in your curriculum, Cheryl! I have said it before, I love how you taught your children. How lucky they were to have such a teacher. ♥

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    2. Truly, it is the stories that make history real! (Thanks for your kind words, friend. ♥)

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  7. This reminds me my east coast trip last October.

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    1. Krishna, you must have visited Plymouth, Massachusetts! How wonderful for you and your family. ♥

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  8. What an interesting and emotional post and something you will always remember. I have been to Plymouth many times over the years and I think I will have a new appreciation for it when I return.

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    1. Thank you, FB. I assume you live in England to visit Plymouth many times. I'm glad you enjoyed this post.

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  9. Martha, what a beautifully written account of a moving experience. I would love to see Plymouth where 13 of my ancestors on my paternal grandfather's side set sail on the Mayflower. Love your Sea Venture ancestor story. Of course, both of our ancestors were on the Ark, and that's even more wonderful!

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    1. My goodness, Jean, you must plan a visit for the 2020 Mayflower anniversary! You are indeed right, we are the family of man, my friend and that is more wonderful!

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  10. I had your blog recommended to me by a fellow blogger and I'm so glad she did! We just returned from a trip to Scotland, England and Wales. We didn't get any further south in England than Shrewsbury. Interestingly, I have a possible ancestor who was also on the Sea Venture! His name was John Graye Proctor. My father was a genealogist. Beautiful pictures of Plymouth!

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    1. Jan, thank you for visiting! How interesting you have an ancestor as well on the Sea Venture! It's a small world. How lucky we both are that those brave souls continued on their journey! I will try to pay you a visit soon.

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  11. Plymouth sounds like a wonderful place to visit. And a lot of history there as well. I love the "one love one heart" framed words by Bob Marley. He is a favorite of mine, and have several of his quotes saved in my journal. You look so nice in your warm white coat. Was it a cold day there?

    Happy November days, Martha Ellen.

    ~Sheri

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    1. Sheri, it was quite chilly that day in Plymouth, but my heart was warmed by what I discovered there!

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  12. I can imagine so clearly what you felt like inside, standing at the Mayflower memorial, thinking of your ancestor and that terrible shipwreck and your own personal history. It's rather profound.

    I don't know if I ever would have thought of going to Plymouth but seeing this post makes me rethink that. I don't know if I'd ever have enough time to do all I want, but this goes higher on the list.

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    1. Jeanie, I had to visit Plymouth. Learning that the Sea Venture left from there made it imperative. There is so much to see in Great Britain, I'm sure I'll never see it all, but I'll surely try!

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  13. How wonderful it must have felt to walk the same walk your ancestor did. Lovely pictures and such an interesting story.

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    1. Betsy, it was quite emotional for me. It still is for that matter...

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  14. Amazing to be able to trace an ancestor back to this time and this voyage. I can understand how special and emotional it was for you to stand there. Glad you were able to visit on this memorable trip of yours.

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    1. Ellen, it was an honor to stand where my ancestor stood before taking a voyage to a world he knew little about.

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  15. I've stood in a house (now a tiny country post office) in Chester County, PA where my ancestor lived in 1750 so I know a bit of what you must have felt walking in the footsteps of your ancestor's 1609 voyage! I love "almost never born" stories (I have a few of those, too) because of an ancestor being spared. Yours is an amazing story and how wonderful you were able to visit the site.

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    1. It's humbling to trace our roots, isn't it? That's great the home your ancestor lived in is still standing and you've visited!

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  16. What a great story! I was so relieved when I read that none of the passengers perished. How wonderful that you were able to take those same steps that your ancestor had taken so long ago.

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    1. The fact that no one perished when the Sea Venture met that terrible storm, is a miracle in my opinion. I was moved with emotion that day, Mary. In fact the dangers of a voyage so long ago gives me chills.

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