Valentine Day reminder of Sir Walter Raleigh’s love affair with Queen Elizabeth 1 and his love of Sherborne.
To celebrate Valentine’s Day and mark Sherborne’s historic connections with Elizabethan explorer and Queen Elizabeth 1’s beloved courtier, Sir Walter Raleigh, a new ‘Walking with Walter’ Blue Badge walk is planned for 12 February. The town’s longest-established bakery, Oxfords, has also introduced a tempting ‘Raleigh’ biscuit.
Raleigh’s connections with Sherborne come from the two famous castles in the town. The 16th century New Castle was built by Raleigh after Queen Elizabeth leased him the Old Castle when he’d fallen in love with Sherborne. Rather than refurbish the Old Castle, Raleigh decided to construct a new lodging for temporary visits, and this became known as Sherborne New Castle.
The special biscuits have been introduced by Steve Oxford, owner of Oxfords. He has used the hidden cypher, recently discovered on a portrait of Sir Walter Raleigh that hangs in the National Portrait Gallery, to decorate the new biscuit and some sour dough loaves.
The cypher was found in the top left hand corner of a painting of Sir Walter – the sea can be made out just below an emblem of a crescent moon, indicating Raleigh’s willingness to be controlled by the Queen in the same way the moon controls the tides. Elizabeth had been compared to the moon goddess Cynthia, and experts now say the newly-revealed water must refer to the explorer himself (using the pun Walter/water).
More can be learned on the special walk with Sherborne’s Blue Badge guide Cindy Chant who comments, “It is so fitting that this time of year, St Valentine’s Day, should be a chance to remind people both of Sir Walter Raleigh’s love affair with Queen Elizabeth 1 and also his love affair with Sherborne.” www.sherbornewalks.co.uk
Oxfords Bakery in the town will also be selling their new ginger biscuits with a hint of cinnamon. Oxfords has a direct connection to Raleigh as the bakery has been owned by Castle Estates for over 200 years. The New Castle was taken over by the Digby family in 1617 after Sir Walter Raleigh had fallen out of favour with the new King James 1 and was imprisoned in the Tower of London before being beheaded in 1618.
Janet Schofield from Sherborne Tourism Information Centre said, “There was a large increase in group travel visitors to Sherborne in 2016 and the Raleigh walk and these new ‘Raleigh’ biscuits are a great reminder of the fascinating history of the town which attracts people from across the UK and beyond. The biscuits would make an unusual and unique Valentine delicacy whether you want to show your love for someone special or celebrate your love for Sherborne.”
Giving a warm Dorset welcome for coaches, Sherborne’s Tourist Information Centre (TIC) has a welcome pack that includes vouchers for free tea or coffee for the driver, which makes the ‘Raleigh’ ginger biscuits sound even more tempting.