Elizabeth I was dead and heir, King James I, had issued a warrant for the arrest of the late Queen’s Favourite. England’s most famous explorer was once again a wanted man. A charge of treason was at his heels and the hounds had been loosed and were on the hunt.
Tucked away beneath the wild skies of Dartmoor stood a dark Inn of long-standing. Within the old walls and beneath the twisting beams, candles flickered and guttered, casting long shadows across the tables as the landlord poured ale from a barrel beside a huge granite fireplace. The rooms rang with rough voiced cheer and the songs of the summer then passing. It was the evening of July 19th in the year 1603.
Sir Walter Raleigh sat quietly in a corner of the Old Exeter Inn, his boot heels resting on the hearth’s edge. He knew the Inn well. His thoughts were of the past, his family and the many nights he and Sir Francis Drake had been found deep in their cups at the Exeter. He knew that he would be returning to the Tower of London with all that implied for the rest of his future.
He raised his leather tankard and took a good mouthful of ale. The ale was always good and he would make the most of it this night. The company in the Inn quietened, their song drifting away to a murmur and a memory. They could hear the harness of horses and the heavy tread of soldiers. Raleigh shrugged. He knew what was coming. He looked up at the Captain standing before him. Raleigh raised his tankard in salute as the Captain nodded and announced “Sir Walter Raleigh I arrest you in the name of the King”.