The poetic aristocratic, exploring solider turned politician (and even spy!) Sir Walter Raleigh was born in East Budleigh, that’s just a pebble's throw away from Budleigh Salterton. Born into a yeoman family, Raleigh’s father was the church warden of All Saints Church and his mother was related to Kat Ashley, Queen Elizabeth’s governess. Raleigh’s beginning in life was humble and he was born in the farmhouse of Hayes Barton, located on the edge of Woodbury Common. Unfortunately Hayes Barton is no longer open to the public but there is a lovely walk around Woodbury Common that allows you to view the house from the road.
Raised in a strongly Protestant family, Raleigh had many near escapes during the reign of the Roman Catholic Queen Mary; as a result he developed a hatred of Catholicism and was eager to prove himself to the Protestant Queen Elizabeth when she came to the throne. Before serving in the Huguenot army in France he studied at Oxford, and became a favourite of Queen Elizabeth after serving in her army in Ireland. He was knighted in 1585 and within two years became captain of the Queen's guard and even became mayor of Plymouth from 1588 – 1589.
As if all this glory and power wasn’t enough for Raleigh, he had bigger ambitions on his mind and during the late 16th Century was granted the right to explore America. On his travels he named, what is now the state of Virginia after Queen Elizabeth and paved the way for many more English settlements to flourish.
However Raleigh’s good fortune did not last and in 1603 after the death of Queen Elizabeth, he was arrested just down the road in Ashburton and imprisoned in the Tower of London due to his involvement in a plot to overthrow King James. Ever the showman, Raleigh conducted his own defence and although receiving a guilty verdict, King James spared his life. He did however spend the next 13 years imprisoned in the tower, where he lived with his family and servants and wrote his first volume of the ‘Historie of the World’.
In 1616, he was released and undertook an expedition in search of El Dorado or the ‘city of gold’. During the expedition he defied King James’ instructions and fought the Spanish outpost of Sanot Tome de Guayana where his son was fatally shot. Outraged by Raleigh's attack Count Gondomar, the Spanish ambassador, demanded that King James reinstate Raleigh's death sentence and in 1618, Raleigh was beheaded in the Palace of Westminster.
We think you’ll agree with us when we say that Raleigh was certainly a character, there’s even a legend that he laid down his cloak for Queen Elizabeth to walk across so her feet wouldn’t get wet and while we can’t promise quite that level of hospitality at Pebbles, we will certainly do our best to make your stay as comfortable as possible. While visiting Budleigh and the surrounding areas there is lots of Raleigh based fun to be had.
After your walk around Woodbury Common (ask Richard for top photography spots) your first stop will be East Budleigh and the All Saints Church. Here, Raleigh’s parents are buried so take time wandering around the beautiful graveyard and find their headstones for yourself. Next, take a look inside the church where you will find the family coat of arms displayed on one of the church pews. The church actually has Saxon stone embedded within the walls and dates predominantly back to the 12th Century. It’s definitely worth taking a look inside as well as the beautiful surrounding area. Admire the 80 foot high bell tower, which currently holds 8 bells, the same bells that Raleigh would have heard across the fields almost 500 years ago!
After all this Raleigh-ing about it’s time to come back and relax in Pebbles’ conservatory or garden, over looking the beautiful beach and sea with some tea and home made cake, perfection!