Sir Walter Raleigh (born sometime around 1553 – October 29, 1618), writer, poet, soldier, politician, courtier, spy, explorer and quite possibly the man responsible for killing more people before or since with his introduction of tobacco to England. It is however for his local connection that he is remembered here since he owned a property near the corner of Upper Street and Theberton Street, which later became the Pied Bull Inn until it was demolished in the first half of the 19thCentury. Raleigh fell from favour after violating a peace treaty with Spain. He was beheaded on October 29, 1618 apparently saying to his executioner: “Let us dispatch.” Adding: “At this hour my ague comes upon me. I would not have my enemies think I quaked from fear.” After he was allowed to see the axe that would be used to behead him, he mused: “This is a sharp Medicine, but it is a Physician for all diseases and miseries.” Following his death the property was sold to a Sir John Miler, Knight, of Islington and Devon. Raleigh did have another connection to the area, it was said that he was connected with the nearby Queen’s Head Inn. In the 30th year of Elizabeth I’s reign, Sir Walter obtained a patent “to make licences for keeping of taverns and retailing of wines throughout England.” This house may be one of those to which Raleigh granted licences, and the sign then marked the reign in which it was granted.
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