In September 1980, Stowford Paper Mill at Ivybridge produced a ‘Drake 400’ watermark, commemorating the 400th anniversary of Sir Francis Drake’s circumnavigation of the world. Drake was of course born relatively locally to the mill and is most famous for playing a game of bowls on Plymouth Hoe, while waiting for the tide to change, before sailing out with the English fleet to engage with the Spanish Armada in 1588.
The City of Plymouth celebrated the voyage with a 142-day Drake 400 festival, so it was only fitting that the mill produced this special watermark in cream wove A4 paper. A magnificent stained glass window depicting Queen Elizabeth I with Drake aboard his ship, the Golden Hinde, exists at Stowford Lodge, the former Mill Manager’s residence at Ivybridge.
A statue of Francis Drake by Joseph Boehm was unveiled on Plymouth Hoe on 14th February 1884. The day was observed as a general holiday and an estimated crowd of 20,000 (including 3,000 schoolchildren) flocked to the Hoe. It is a replica of the celebrated Boehm statue in Tavistock which stands closer to Drake’s birthplace, but it is not thought to be a good likeness of the great seafarer.
The Queen visited Plymouth in 1988 to help mark the 400th anniversary of the defeat of the Spanish Armada. The city staged a month-long celebration of Drake during July, culminating in a massive firework display which attracted thousands of people to the Hoe.
The Armada sundial was commissioned for the occasion of the 400th anniversary and was one of the first major works by architect Carole Vincent. The structure stands 27 feet high which made it one of the biggest horizontal sundials in the UK at the time and is now a popular meeting spot in the city centre.