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Sir Francis Drake

Page updated 7th December 2016

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Elizabethan sea Captain and adventurer

This page has been added to try and correct the myth that Drake drank in the Ship Inn, Martins Lane. Born in Tavistock, Devon around 1540, his family fled to Kent because of persecution by westcountry Catholics. He went to sea and by the age of 23 was a sea captain.

Drake made his name with his voyages to the Americas and then with his circumnavigation of the world in the Golden Hinde, which he completed in 1580. He became Mayor of Plymouth in 1581 and installed the leat system across Dartmoor to supply the city with water. He also played a prominent role in defeating the Spanish Armada in 1588.

He reputedly drank at the Ship Inn - St Martins Lane although there is no historic evidence that he did. The Ship has enscribed on the front that Drake stated "Next to my own ship I do most love that old Ship in Exon, a tavern in Fish Street, as the people call it, or as the clergy will have it, St. Martin's Lane". This is a myth perpetrated by Thomas Burnett Worth of Mols Gallery to attract tourists in the late 19th Century. His friend Sir Walter Raleigh was a local, being born in Budleigh Salterton, so it may be possible. If he travelled from Plymouth or Tavistock by road he would have passed through Exeter.

He died off the Panama coast in 1596 while on a voyage to the Caribbean. He was placed in a lead coffin and buried at sea.

Ship Inn

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