Across the river on the Southwark side, opposite Cannon Street Station, you can see a small Tudor-like ship. This is the Golden Hinde II, a full-sized replica of Sir Francis Drake’s famous ship that circumnavigated the globe between 1577 and 1580 and made Drake and Queen Elizabeth I very rich.
In December 1577 Drake set out from Plymouth with 5 ships, which included the Pelican; however this was changed to the Golden Hinde, in honour of Sir Christopher Hatton, one of the patrons of the voyage. His coat of arms featured a female red deer - a ‘hinde’. This epic voyage brought Drake into the Pacific, where he managed to plunder Spanish ships and settlements.
He hugged the American coast for a considerable way and some historians believe he may have sailed as far as Vancouver Island - even beyond. When he arrived back in England he was knighted on deck by Elizabeth I, who no doubt was pleased with her share of the spoils, which paid off the national debt and made Drake a hugely wealthy man.
The Golden Hinde became a museum at its home in Deptford but it gradually fell into disrepair and was broken up. All that survives is a chair in the Bodleian Library , Oxford and a table in Middle Temple Hall, in London, both made from timbers. This replica was the dream of American businessmen Art Blum and Albert Eldridge was built in Appeldore, Devon and launched in 1973.
Since then it has sailed over 140,000 miles and has featured in several TV programmes, including BBC TV’s Henry V: The Hollow Crown. This square-rigged galleon measures 102 ft long, with its main mast reaching to a height of 92 ft and a displacement of 300 tons. There was room for 55-60 men and boys, which would have made the ship incredibly crowded.
You can visit the ship on a self-guided tour and it’s fascinating clambering aboard and exploring the cramped quarters, the hold which stored all the provisions and seeing Drake’s cabin. Sailing on this small vessel must have been hell!