400 Years Across the Pond!

Yes, our Timeline goes back 400 years this issue—to 1607. Over the past year or more, we have covered the broad story of events surrounding the English foothold on these shores at Jamestown—including the story of America’s forgotten founding father, Captain Bartholomew Gosnold, and the sail of Godspeed.

Now four centuries ago as I write, the three small ships of the Virginia Company were some-where in the North Atlantic. By today’s standards, none of the vessels seems big enough to have crossed the ocean. The smallest, Discovery, was a mere 28 feet long. Several attempts had been made to establish a colony before—the Popham Colony, the Lost Colony of Roanoke and Bartholomew Gosnold’s summer of 1602 in Buzzard’s Bay, for instance. The Virginia Company would succeed where others failed in becoming the first permanent English settlement in the New World.

Being descended myself from at least seven Mayflower passengers, naturally I chafe some to admit it, but the Jamestown settlement was first. Commemorations of what became America’s 400th anniversary have been taking place throughout the past year in Virginia and in England and will culminate in May with an Anniversary Weekend bash in Jamestown and Williamsburg. You’re sure to hear of it in the news.

I pondered much in the telling of the story over these months what it would have been like to sail the broad, dark seas to an unknown future in the times of those early settlers and the Great Migrations of the colonial decades. The closest I could come to the experience was sailing on Isaac Evans off the coast of Maine. I thought British Heritage readers might like to come along.

We are following Jim Hargan again as well this issue—into the Fens of East Anglia and Lincolnshire. It is a fascinating countryside and a lesson in how the human footprint can dramatically change a landscape and a region’s history. Veteran British Heritage readers always love Jim’s great photography as well.

Darkly romantic Cornwall was Jean Paschke’s destination, to follow the darkly romantic human footprints of Daphne du Maurier, doyenne of gothic delights. The 100th anniversary of the much-loved novelist’s birth seemed a good time to visit Jamaica Inn and Manderley.

Jennifer Dorn, meanwhile, has been on the streets of London as usual. This time I asked her to report on the places where visitors to the city actually do eat on a free night in town. If you crave a more memorable culinary experience in London, there is Lizzie Meadows’ account of dinner at the Connaught in our changing reviews department, now “Beyond the Bookshelf.”

As always, it is a great delight to unveil a new issue of British Heritage. Yes, it is time once again to settle back with a beaker of tea or a toddy and part the curtain into our favorite few hours of periodical delight. Cheers!