Bamber Gascoigne, once a familiar figure on British TV screens, has invited Mark Wallis to visit the gorgeous but crumbling country mansion he’s inherited. Gascoigne has a red velvet bag that he wants Wallis, an expert on historical costumes, to see. And Wallis is astonished by the artifact. He believes it dates from the 17th century, in fact, and that it might once have belonged to the wife of Sir Walter Raleigh.
Before we move on to the possible significance of this bag in the story of Sir Walter and his wife, let’s first find out a little more about the man’s life. Raleigh was born sometime around 1552 in a farmhouse called Hayes Barton, close to an English countryside village known as East Budleigh.
His family were well-to-do gentlefolk, but details of his childhood are scarce, although we know he was the fifth son of Walter Raleigh and Catherine Champernowne. Raleigh’s family were staunch Protestants, a dangerous thing to be when Catholic Mary I of England was on the throne. But Raleigh Jr.’s faith did him no harm in later life when Protestant Elizabeth I became queen in 1558.