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Plymouth & maritime heritage


Plymouth & maritime heritage


Plymouth is a port city in Devon, southwest England that well known for its maritime heritage and historic Barbican district with narrow, cobbled streets. The tiny port from which Drake, Raleign, the Pilgrim Fathers, Cook and Darwin all set sail on pioneering voyages has grown into a substantial city.

Old Plymouth clusters around the Hoe, the famous patch of turf on which Sir Francis Drake is said to have calmly finished his game of bowls as the Spanish Armada approached the port 1588.  He was the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe and was knighted by Elisabeth I in 1580.

To many, however, Drake was just an opportunistic rogue, renowned for his exploits as a “privateer”, the polite name for a pirate. Drake further endeared himself to queen and people by his part in the victory over Spanish Armada, defeated by bad weather and the buccaneering spirit of the English.

Today the Hoe is a park and parade ground surrounded by memorials to navel man, including Drake himself. Nearby is  Charles II’s Royal Citadel, build to guard the Harbour in the 1660s. Just west is the Mayflower Stone and Steps, the spot where the Pilgrim Fathers set sail for the New World in 1620.

Did you know?

Plymouth Gin Distillery is the oldest working gin distillery in England, in operation since 1793.

If you want to explore Plymouth, a boat tour of the Harbour will be the best way to see the dockyards. There are also splendid views of various fine gardens, such as Mount Edgcumbe Park, scattered around the Coastline.

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At a glance

  • Activity

    Culture, Sightseeing, Beach
  • Address

    South England, Devon

"From here Drake, Cook and Darwin set sail on voyages to explore the New World"

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