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  • Writer's pictureTavistock Heritage Trust

Historic England supports Tavistock’s Drake Statue Project

Updated: May 3, 2023

Tavistock Heritage Trust has been awarded a £14,750 grant by Historic England to develop a major educational project around the story of Sir Francis Drake.

Working in partnership with Tavistock Town Council, Tavistock Rotary Club, Tavistock College and Mount Kelly School, THT is developing a school’s learning programme that will cover all the many aspects of Drake’s history. This will include his circumnavigation of the Globe and his role in defeating the Spanish Armada alongside his privateering voyages and his involvement in the early slave trade.

It will also look at the lives of people from Black and Ethnic Minority Groups who lived in England as freemen and women between the 16th and 19th centuries, how the slave trade evolved, and how slavery still exists today via human trafficking and exploitation.

The programme will be launched and trialled in the two local schools during Black History Month in October before being released as an online learning package for both schools and adult learning via the new Guildhall website and promoted to local schools via the network of Rotary Clubs across Great Britain and Ireland.

Said THT Chair Dr Geri Parlby, “We are delighted that Historic England has agreed to fund this nationally significant project. We will be working alongside Tavistock Rotary and Tavistock College and Mount Kelly to develop the schools’ programme. The subjects covered in the educational package evolved out of a survey run at the College amongst the pupils following the killing of George Floyd and the global protests it provoked”.

Said Tavistock Rotary President David Tout: “Rotary International has been involved in raising awareness of the issues surrounding modern slavery for several years and education is also a key aspect of our community work so we are delighted to be developing the programme in partnership with the THT”.

The Historic England funding also covers the creation of an interpretation panel on the story of Drake which will sit opposite the statue on Plymouth Road. This part of the project is being developed in collaboration with Tavistock Town Council working with councillors, local historians, and community groups.

Said Town Clerk Carl Hearn: "The Council welcomes this innovative and nationally recognised collaboration. It sets out to address the diversity of issues raised, and views expressed in recent public discourse in an inclusive, non-judgemental and historically rigorous way to more fully articulate all the strands of history associated with Sir Francis Drake and the contemporary context within which his story now sits."

Assistant Principal Nick Read of Tavistock College also welcomed the opportunity to be involved in the implementation and development of the Drake Schools Project.

“The project will help us to educate the students around the story of Sir Francis Drake and to develop our understanding of how past events should inform our current and future behaviours and attitudes.”

Said Guy Ayling, Head of Mount Kelly "This is a significant initiative and a meaningful response to pressing issues in society; Mount Kelly is committed to the success of the project"

Although the project will be focussing on the story of Tavistock born Sir Francis Drake and his statue and using the narrative as a means of raising awareness amongst students of the often complex and controversial lives of some of England’s well known figures from history. The lessons are being developed in a way that will enable schools in other areas across the country to focus their students attention on their own local heroes and commemorative statues and use them as a means of addressing the wider issues of diversity by bringing a greater awareness of BAME voices and contributions into the classroom across all ages, stages and subjects.

Says Esther Deans. Educational Lead for One Bristol Curriculum who are creating the programme

“We are happy to support Tavistock Historic Trust in rolling out the Drake Project to address our past, present and future context of moving from an educationally Eurocentric to world view curriculum to create in our students’ global citizens of the future. We look forward to students using the information, challenge, discussion and questioning to learn together in these resources. We hope this will work toward a greater understanding and respect of each other in our classrooms and around us – as well as a greater engagement with issues of others in the world.

Sandra Stancliffe, Historic England’s Head of Learning Inclusion and Volunteering said: “Historic England is delighted to support this important project which will help tell a more complete story of Drake’s life. It will enable children to discover their local heritage and develop an understanding of how that relates to our national story and to contemporary issues.”

For further information please contact Dr Geri Parlby – 01822 852102/07824 339036


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