Men and women from England's Westcountry district of Berkeley in Gloucestershire and the nearby city of Bristol are justly proud that Berkeley, Virginia's Most Historic Plantation owes its genesis to the courage and determination of their Jacobean kinsmen who set up a colony there in 1619 against tremendous odds.

Berkeley's owner in 1776 was Benjamin Harrison. Not only was he one of the signatories of the Declaration of Independence but his son and grandson both became Presidents of the United States.

The 38 would-be settlers who left Bristol that September day in 1619 were crowded aboard a tiny 35-ft long 47-ton Bristol-owned ship, the Margaret which was manned by a local crew.

These intrepid pioneers were known as "Adventurers for Virginia", so-called because the financial backers of the expeditions "ventured" their money and the settlers that actually went, their lives.

The new tapestry and educational book is Tom Mor's 'history without tears' approach in recording that momentous voyage, made possible by today's Adventurers for Virginia who are patrons of the project and determined to make the importance of Anglo-American early history better known. Two scenes in the Tapestry are reserved for American stichers.

'MUST-SEES' in Bristol on the Tapestry

Two mythical kings, Brennus and Benilus are said to have founded Bristol and their effigies, shown here, adorn St John the Baptist's church tower, which is part of the City's only surviving medieval gateway, standing at the foot of Broad Street.

Next to Brennus on the wall is the shield of the City's coat-of-arms, whilst to the left of Benilus is that of the Society of Merchant Venturers of the City of Bristol whose letters patent were granted by Edward VI on 18 December 1552.

In Bristol on the pavement outside the Corn Exchange in Corn Street stand four round-topped pedestals called NAILS. One is illustrated. Merchants used them when closing a sale when money was placed on the surface of a Nail signifying that a bargain had been struck - hence the expression still used today "PAYING ON THE NAIL".

Shown here paying on the nail is Richard Berkeley of Stoke Park in - Bristol, hiring the ship Margaret from its Bristol merchant owner Edward Williams for use in the forthcoming Berkeley Hundred expedition to Virginia.

Stoke Park is set on a hill above the M32 motorway on the main approach to the city.

For details of the 16th century Red Lodge Museum and Knot Garden check its Website and for a 'character' pub the early century Stag and Hounds offers a warm welcome at 74 Old Market Street.

'ROB.ALD.HOUSE' sign means Merchant Venturer Robert Aldworth's old home which is depicted and his life described in Tom Mor's forthcoming educational booklet 'ANGLO-AMERICAN HISTORY WITHOUT TEARS - THE BERKELEY PLANTATION 1619'.


February 1620: The ship London Merchant brings George Thorpe to assume his duties as "Deputie for the College Land" and become famous for distilling America's first Bourbon whisky.

July 1620: William Tracey arrives in The Supply to share control of the colony with Thorpe.

1622: Though the Indian uprising at Jamestown is crushed Berkeley is abandoned until 1636 when merchant William Tucker buys it.

1691: After two more owners the property is bought by Benjamin Harrison, the Attorney General of the colony who is also the Treasurer and Speaker of the House of Burgesses and it is he who builds the superb mansion pictured here, which is still in existence today and open to the public.

1710: Benjamin dies leaving Berkeley to his son, also named Benjamin, who is shown here as one of the signatories to the Declaration of Independence. Three times Governor of Virginia his other claim to fame was to be as the father of a son and have a grandson both of whom would become Presidents of the United States.