Plymouth - Part Two

It may be called New Street but it's actually one of the oldest streets in the city. Today there's little evidence of the chaotic scenes that were once commonplace here, but with just a little imagination.....

You should be standing at the top end of New Street. Ironically, this is thought to be the oldest street in Plymouth.

New Street was 'new' in the late 1500's - a time when Plymouth was a prosperous port teaming with sailors, merchants and foreign privateers.  It was at the very heart of the town's commercial and sea going life.

Originally known as Grey Friars Street, it was built by Plymouth's first property developer John Sparke.

Sparke had sailed with Sir John Hawkins and is said to be the first Englishman to bring home and describe tobacco and potatoes.

Today, there's little evidence of the chaotic scenes that were once commonplace here.

Carts full of silver coins, gold bullion and precious jewels - the booty captured from Spanish ships by local heroes like Francis Drake and John Hawkins - would once have been commonplace on this cobbled street.

Two hundred years later, the booty was even more precious. Prisoners of war from wars with France and America were imprisoned here.

They'd be herded into the dark cellars of the warehouses along New Street, where they were kept prisoner until a place was found for them in a nearby prison or hulk.

Today you can still look down at the cobbles at the side of the street, and you'll see just a hint of the past. The ruts there were made by the carts,  as they carried their precious goods through the street, day after day.

If you want to take a further look at the heart of Plymouth's Old Town, go down New Street. At the far end you'll find an original timber framed Elizabethan House and several warehouses little changed from how they were 150 year ago.

Several of these warehouses were built during the Napoleonic Wars when Plymouth was a port where captured ships, their cargoes and the spoils of war were auctioned.

In New Street you will also find a beautiful walled city garden - the perfect spot for a bit of peace and quiet away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It's a recreation of an Elizabethan garden using old plant varieties.

It's important that you come back to the top of New Street, to head on to the next point. You'll be walking up the steps close to where Friars Lane meets New Street. At the top of the steps turn left along Lambhay Hill, towards the high walls of the Royal Citadel.

Remember, to keep on track, you'll need  to keep the Citadel walls on your left as you continue the walk.

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