Sharpham Archivist finds buried treasure
Published: 26 April 2017
One of our Sharpham archivists has unearthed buried treasure.
Ruth Donaldson - who volunteers in the Sharpham Archive - found an engraving in Plymouth's vaults that pertains to Sharpham's heritage.
She was looking for documents linked to the Bastard family, but at the last minute switched to searching for information about the Hermione - the Spanish ship full of gold, precious stones, tin, cocoa and gunpowder captured by Captain Philemon Pownoll - the founder of Sharpham House as it stands today.
"I found the engraving by chance," said Ruth. "It was exciting to have found this, as I knew the rest of the Sharpham Archive would be really excited by it."
The engraving shows the landing of the money in London, with covered wagons carting off the massive treasure.
The booty was worth an estimated £500,000 in today's money and Captain Pownoll's £64,872 share of the prize paid for the remodelling of Sharpham House into a Palladian villa in grounds thought to have been designed by landscaper Capability Brown.
"It's important, especially because we didn't know where Pownoll's ship came in - it was either Plymouth or London - and this shows that it was in London," said Ruth.
"It also shows how significant it was for the rest of the country."
Ruth has been a volunteer in the Sharpham Archive since February this year, but will return to her liberal arts and history degree in September. She first heard about Sharpham after her mum came on retreat here.