Page last updated at 13:04 GMT, Thursday, 9 February 2006

Village secures Raleigh statue

By Jemima Laing
BBC News Devon

The new statue of Sir Walter Raleigh

While Sir Walter Raleigh's voyage to the New World took him five years the drive to secure a suitable tribute in his Westcountry birthplace has taken more than twice as long.

Over a decade of campaigning by villagers came to fruition on Thursday as the life-size statue of the Elizabethan explorer was unveiled in East Budleigh by the Duke of Kent.

The bronze cast is mounted opposite All Saints Church in the village, on a plinth of stone from Stoneycombe quarry.

The idea to bring a monument to the village where Raleigh was born was first mooted in 1993 when a statue of the explorer standing on Raleigh Green, London, needed to be re-sited.

The parish council and then MP, Sir Peter Emery, started a campaign to get the statue moved to the village, which was eventually unsuccessful.

But current MP Hugo Swire took up the challenge and persuaded British American Tobacco (BAT) to help fund a new statue, because of Raleigh's links with the introduction of tobacco into the UK.

1554 Walter Raleigh born in Hayes Barton, Devon
1578 Walter Raleigh sails with his half brother to America
1580 Raleigh is knighted
1595 Sails to Guiana to search for the city of El Dorado (the city of gold)
1616 Raleigh travels to Guina. His mission fails and he attacks a Spanish settlement
1618 Sir Walter Raleigh is beheaded for attacking the Spanish

Renowned sculptress Vivien Mallock was then commissioned to create the 6ft (1.83m) tall piece.

BAT said: "A decision to support a statue of Sir Walter Raleigh in East Budleigh was prompted by an approach from Hugo Swire MP, who felt it was a pity no statue existed near his birthplace.

"We agreed and therefore contributed to the cost of erecting one."

And Mr Swire rejects potential criticism of the decision to accept funding from the multi-national towards the 30,000 cost.

"If anyone is seriously suggesting a statue to Walter Raleigh, an extraordinary renaissance man, glorifies smoking frankly they should get a life," he said.

'Cracking statue'

"This represents a happy conclusion to a long-running saga."

Those sentiments are echoed by parish councillor Steve Baker: "There is bound to be criticism," he said, "but there have been no protests.

"The parish is very, very pleased to have a statue once again.

"It means a lot to a lot of people the parish especially the people who were involved in the first instance.

"It's a cracking statue and a fitting tribute."

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See the statue being unveiled



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