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THE 'HOOK' AND THE AUTHOR

What inspired me to begin writing The Rosario? The story began because of two 16th-century doors.

I have always been fascinated by a pair of them hanging in an old Devon property. Both doors have six relief panels, not depicting the plain English carved "Linen Fold" design, but one originating from Flanders - a more detailed and stylised pattern.

Timber 16th-century door with Flemish carved panels taken from the Spanish galleon the Rosario.

I believe it is not commonly known that in the 16th century, Flanders (present day north-east France, Belgium and Holland) was governed by the Spanish. It is quite possible that the two door panels were carved in Flanders and exported to Spain by Spanish merchants. Being of the finest quality, the panels would have been chosen as suitable carved door decoration for an admiral's cabin belonging to the Spanish navy.

In 1588, the ill-fated Spanish Armada set sail from Portugal heading for the English Channel, trying to reach Calais in France. There, the King of Spain's navy had planned to meet up with a large army to overthrow the English protestants, using invasion barges, carrying troops and equipment.

One of the largest Spanish naos or galleons of the Armada, was badly damaged and crippled in two collisions, causing the Armada's leader to leave the stricken ship to drift - that ship was the Nuestra Senora del Rosario - similar to the Spanish nao or galleon above right.

Spanish 16th-century model galleon showing full sails.

The Rosario was relieved of its considerable wealth (and other objects in The Rosario) by the famous English sailor, Sir Francis Drake, who, as usual, kept the majority of the spoils, but left enough for his queen - Elizabeth I.

In 1588 the Rosario was moved by the English navy into Torquay harbour in Devon, then towed up the river Dart, passing the mediaeval Dartmouth castle and St.Petrox church. It was finally anchored at a quayside belonging to a long-gone Tudor manor house.

On that site, and not far from this beautiful rolling Devon countryside seen below, is the imposing house of the famous crime writer, Agatha Christie.

Sunny summer view of River Dart in Devon where Agatha Christie's house stands
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