Jamestown and Bideford

This is the last day of the year when the 400th anniversary of the founding of the Jamestown settlement was celebrated in America and some parts of the UK.

Unfortunately we heard very little of this in North Devon, which is rather odd as the majority of the Tobacco exported to England was landed at the port of Bideford. Bideford is my local market town, approximately 12 miles from the wild and dramatic coast which we enjoy so much in Hartland.

Pat and I attended a fascinating lecture by Dr. Mark Houghton, reader of archaeology at Bristol University. Recent Archaeological finds of wonderfully preserved Bideford and Barnstaple pottery, at Jamestown, are providing more evidence for this link.

It was regretted that our local council have made so little effort to publicise the connection and there are still no plans for a maritime heritage site in Bideford despite the presence of the Kathleen and May. This fine sailing vessel has been restored largely through the efforts of a local business man.

Jamestown was the first english speaking settlement to be established in Virginia and is generally accepted as the foundation of the USA.

It was also interesting to hear that at the time, Bideford was the third most important port in England. The many shipyards built vessels to fight the Spanish Armada and Drake, Grenville and Raleigh were all Devon born. Today some sea freight continues, but on a much smaller scale. The fine merchants houses along the quay have mostly become banks, shops and solicitors offices.

I hope this is of some interest to my readers in the States.

Best wishes for the new year,

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