The new exhibition at Crewkerne Museum takes visitors around the globe, with stories of South Somerset men who became explorers, travellers and pioneers of foreign lands, at a time in history when travel was much more of an adventure, ships sailed to places not heard of and journeys were precarious as detailed maps were not available and navigation aids had not been invented. Explorers And Travellers,follows the lives of many who became famous, including Thomas Coryat and William Dampier. Two very different characters, who shared the love of the high seas and wrote in detail about their adventures.
Thomas Coryat is recorded as being born in Crewkerne in 1577. He lived in Odcombe and was employed as a ‘court jester’ by Prince Henry, the eldest son of James 1. Described as ‘mildy eccentric’, Thomas embarked on a five month expedition, mainly on foot, across Europe in May 1608. He visited France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands, which he wrote about in his first travelogue entitled Coryat’s Crudities. In a later expedition in 1611, Thomas visited Asia, Greece, Turkey and Persia, all recorded in his second volume of travel writings Coryat’s Crambe. Thomas Coryat ended his days in India, where he died of dysentery. His letters from India to home, were published posthumously in 1618.
William Dampier was baptised in St Michael’s Church in East Coker in September 1651. He is described as an explorer and privateer. He was the first Englishman to explore parts of Australia and has a town and major port, named after him. He was also the first person to circumnavigate the world three times. William Dampier’s legacy includes important contributions to navigation, which he learnt by observing patterns in the wind and weather and collecting the first data on currents and tides across the world’s oceans. He wrote several travel books, including A New Voyage Round The World and A Discourse Of Winds. He died in the parish of St Stephen in Coleman Street, London in 1715.
Visitors to Crewkerne Museum’s new exhibition can also view interesting artifacts and curios from across the world and take part in WANDERLUST by numbering a yellow dot, recording their name against the number on the sheet of paper, and sticking the dot onto the world map, on a place that they have visited on their travels. The new exhibition began on June 17th and runs until Saturday September 16th, 2017.