Buckland Abbey - Saturday 8th October 2005
Some forty members of the Society met at Buckland Abbey on Saturday 8th October and, after refreshments listened to a most interesting talk on its history by Alan Gray. This covered, in fact, far more than Sir Francis Drake’s association with the Abbey and dealt with its entire history from its foundation as a Cistercian Monastery in 1278, its purchase by the Grenville family in 1541 after the dissolution of the monasteries, and its sale to Sir Francis Drake in 1580 after his circumnavigation. Although Sir Francis himself spent only some 15 years in the Abbey, which had been converted to a house by the Grenvilles, it remained with the Drake family until the Second World War, after which it was presented to the National Trust.
The talk was followed by a conducted tour of the house under the expert guidance of Alan Gray and his wife, both of whom as both enthusiastic and highly knowledgeable. I had been somewhat disappointed in the first visit to Buckland Abbey, now many years ago, but the National Trust has made major improvements and it came to life under the expert tutelage of the Grays.
After lunch Martin Hazell gave a most interesting talk on the role of the Polish Navy during the Second World War. His original interest in the subject lay in the fact that his father was a Polish naval officer who had escaped after the Nazi invasion and served in Polish naval units attached to the Royal Navy during the war. Moreover his researches into his family history had led him to a far wider study of the Polish Navy and he gave a most informative presentation.
The final talk of the afternoon was given by Julia Creeke on the subject of Lady Nelson, by all accounts a most pleasant and charming woman who has been eclipsed by the more glittering and exotic Lady Hamilton. I was particularly interested to learn that Lady Nelson’s son by her first marriage, Josiah Nisbet, had had a successful business career after his failure to make good as a naval officer. Naval historians have a tendency to ‘write off’ anyone who has not succeeded in the Royal Navy, but Julia’s research corrected this impression, as well as providing much other interesting information.
The meeting at Buckland Abbey had to be arranged at short notice after the cancellation of the proposed meeting at Beer and even then there were last minute ’driving problems’ for one of the speakers. The organisers deserve our thanks and congratulations for arranging such an interesting and rewarding day in difficult circumstances.
Reported by John Claro
Add your comments
Please note: this is not an email facility, all comments are placed on
this page and on our Forum