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Sir Walter Raleigh mural painted on Ashburton house

Category: England

Published: 21st Jul 2012 07:16:42

People living in a historical Devon town have been rubbing their eyes after spotting what appears to be Sir Walter Raleigh leaning out of a window and smoking a cigarette.

The famous Elizabethan explorer has not in fact come back to life but has been recreated in a clever trompe l'oeil - or realistic painting - on a town house in Ashburton.

Raleigh was born in Devon around 1552 and during his lifetime sailed to America, was knighted and became a member of parliament.

The mural was painted by artist Emily Smith, who was commissioned by the owner of the house, John Clipson.

Mr Clipson said: "I decided I wanted some street art but something local to Ashburton.

"I did a bit of research into local characters and found out that Sir Walter Raleigh had been arrested in the pub next door, the Exeter Inn, before being taken up to the Tower of London in 1603."

James I of England and VI of Scotland accused Raleigh of plotting against the king and he was sentenced to death.

This was reduced to life imprisonment and Raleigh spent the next 12 years in the Tower of London.

Ms Smith said: "There was a lot of walking up ladders, and it was very cold at times, but I had an absolutely beautiful view of Ashburton from up there."

She said at times she was sitting in a sleeping bag to keep warm.

Hound of the Baskervilles

Pam Billington, landlady of the Exeter Inn, said: "It's lovely. At the carnival, there were so many people looking up, I thought they were looking at the pub but they weren't, they were looking at the picture."

Adventurer, courtier to Elizabeth I, navigator, author and poet, Sir Walter Raleigh sailed to America and is credited with bringing potatoes and tobacco to Britain.

Ashburton resident, Phil Marshall, said: "It's different from the norm, you're walking along, you know the Exeter Inn is associated with Sir Walter Raleigh, and you look up and see the picture and know it's him, it's just wonderful."

Ms Smith is looking at other local characters she could paint peeping out of false windows on the town's buildings.

She said: "There's John Baskerville, who lived in West Street; he used to take Sir Arthur Conan Doyle up on the moor, and that's where the Baskerville name from Hound of the Baskervilles comes from.

"I'd also like to paint Screaming Lord Sutch."

Lord Sutch, the former leader of the Monster Raving Loony Party who died in 1999, was often seen at the town's Golden Lion Hotel, which was the party's official headquarters.

Ms Smith said: "It's now a bed and breakfast, they have a few filled in windows there so that could work quite well."

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BBC News, 2012. Sir Walter Raleigh mural painted on Ashburton house [Online] (Updated 21st Jul 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1441853/Sir-Walter-Raleigh-mural-painted-on-Ashburton-house [Accessed 24th Apr 2014]

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