The World Encompassed at Buckland

Pym Mural showing the circumnavigation

'The World Encompassed' exhibition tells the story of Sir Francis Drake's circumnavigation through collections, art and activities. Come along to Buckland this year, and you'll discover more about Elizabethan life on the open waves.

What is 'The World Encompassed' about?

'The World Encompassed' is a text based on the notes of Francis Fletcher, the chaplain who sailed with Drake on his circumnavigation, which were later compiled by Drake’s nephew. The fascinating voyage featured many weird and wonderful things, from the crew discovering - and then eating - penguins, to navigating the treacherous seas in the Magellan Strait. These notes are accompanied by hand drawn pictures and give a remarkable insight into life on board an Elizabethan ship, as well as a snap shot of the adventures that were had.

This was the voyage that cemented Drake's reputation and status and has since made him one of Britain’s most famous sailors. Drake was rewarded handsomely for his part in the trip and with a fraction of the treasure that was ‘acquired’; he purchased Buckland Abbey: something pretty astounding considering his humble background.

Trails and activities

For budding adventurers, there's a trail on the yellow estate walk, where you'll collect the stamps for your special circumnavigation passport (50p) and learn about some of the adventures that were had. 

In the house is a 'save the penguin' trail, where you'll find the disguised penguins and learn about life on board Drake's ship. One of the crewmates, named ‘The Welshman’, discovered these odd creatures on Bartholomew Island and he called them ‘Pengwinns’ – which is Welsh for ‘white shirt’. To tell the story of what happened on Bartholomew island, the indoor trail features 12 penguins that have escaped, dressed themselves up as members of the crew and hidden themselves around the Abbey. You'll need to find the penguins, read the crew biography and complete the trail sheet.

Over the school holidays, there will be lots of craft workshops with a marine theme, from family felt to seaside Naturemake. For more details, follow the link below to the What's on page.

The story through art

Throughout the abbey, certain items of the collection have been highlighted to help tell the stories of what happened on the circumnavigation. In the Nave gallery where the main exhibition is being held, the William Pym mural, which is a beautifully hand drawn map of the route Drake took around the world, is displayed.

Also in the Nave gallery is Drake’s drum, and the exhibition looks into the history of the drum, how the Trust acquired it and the myths and legends that surround it. Sat opposite the drum is a fantastic life sized ‘World Encompassed’ ceramic drum which was created by local artist Fi Smart. The World Encompassed drum looks at life at Buckland Abbey and, if you look closely enough, you will see images of the estate views, features of the rooms in the abbey and even a mini Rembrandt. 

Fiona Smart's ceramic drum
Fiona Smart's ceramic drum
Fiona Smart's ceramic drum

More pieces, specially created to be part of the World Encompassed story, have been created by Devon Art Pop artists, and will be displayed throughout the house.