Suffolk celebrates US connection

AS the Queen and Prince Philip join the celebrations to mark the 400th birthday of America at Jamestown in Virginia, PAUL GEATER looks at how Suffolk will be celebrating the birth of a nation .

By Paul Geater

AS the Queen and Prince Philip join the celebrations to mark the 400th birthday of America at Jamestown in Virginia, PAUL GEATER looks at how Suffolk will be celebrating the birth of a nation . . . all thanks to a Suffolk man.>

WHILE America has started ten days of celebrations to mark its 400th birthday, there is no shortage of events on this side of the pond to mark Suffolk's pivotal role in the foundation of the new country.

The events are centred on two historic sites - Bury St Edmunds Abbey Gardens and Otley Hall which was the home of 17th century explorer Bartholomew Gosnold who was the prime mover of the expedition which founded Jamestown.

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In Bury St Edmunds the Abbey Gardens, cathedral, and Angel Hill will host a number of special events on Sunday afternoon. The USAF, which was awarded the freedom of St Edmundsbury in 2000, will parade on Angel Hill and the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight will fly over the events.

There is to be a special commemorative service at the cathedral at 3.30pm with an address from American-born Carla Carlisle.

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In the Abbey Gardens there are special events from noon until 6pm.

A 17th century village is being recreated and the social history of America will be represented by a wild west show, a 1940s dance display and customised bikes.

There will also be an exhibition by the Bury record office helping people who want to trace their ancestors back to Gosnold's era. A special leaflet has been prepared by St Edmundsbury Cathedral explaining the links between Suffolk and America.

Gosnold lived in the town when he was first married and his children were born there.

During one of his earlier trips across the Atlantic he discovered what is now Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, and named it after one of his daughters.

Gosnold gained a charter from King James I to form the Virginia Company in 1604, and set sail on his vessel, The Godspeed, in 1606. He was second in command of a flotilla of three vessels although he was very much the architect of the expedition.

His life in Suffolk is also being celebrated at a special open day at his ancestral home, Otley Hall, on Sunday afternoon.

There will be Tudor dancers, a falconry exhibition, and archery displays as well as information boards telling the story of Bartholomew Gosnold and his expeditions to the New World.

Tomorrow Otley Hall will play host to the launch of a new book: “Bartholomew Gosnold of Otley and America.”

The book has been produced by John Haden with pupils of Woodbridge School who have contributed passages of writing and drawings.

Mr Liam O'Flanaghan from the Embassy of the United States of America in London will be giving a formal introduction to the book.

During the rest of 2007 there will be many more events celebrating Gosnold and the foundation of Jamestown.

An exhibition showing Ipswich's links with the new world will run at Christchurch Mansion from June until October, and from this month through to August there will be special walks with Blue Badge Guides telling the story of Ipswich's connections with the new world.

A replica of one of the ships, the Discovery, is going to visit Ipswich between August 7 and 13. The original was captained by John Sicklemore, also known as John Radcliff, an Ipswich man.

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