Totnes is included in an international celebration linking Devon, Newfoundland and the man from Compton who is said to have founded the British Empire.
Compton Castle, near Marldon, was the family seat of Sir Humphrey Gilbert, who first claimed Newfoundland as a British colony in 1583 during an ill-fated expedition that ended in disaster and his death.
A series of major commemorative events is planned for later this year to mark the cultural connections between the Canadian province and Devon.
They will include visits to Totnes, Dartmouth and Compton Castle.
The Devonshire Association is teaming up with the Devon Family History Society, which was founded in 1862 to promote the study, understanding and appreciation of every aspect of Devon and which boasts more than 1,300 members, to hold two weeks of events in April to celebrate nearly 600 years of interaction between Devon and Newfoundland.
The association is collaborating with Newfoundlanders on the history, archaeology and music events, the core of which will be a weekend of talks, workshops and exhibits. It all begins with a reception on Friday, April 7, in Exeter’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum, and continues on Saturday and Sunday, April 8 and 9, with a symposium in Devon County Hall in Exeter, in which a series of talks by experts from both sides of the Atlantic will explore aspects of shared history and trade, dialect and folklore, music, mummery and dance.
Both before and after this central weekend, there will be linked events in other Devon towns and excursions to these and other places with particular Newfoundland connections. These will include trips to Dartmouth, Totnes and Compton Castle on April 6.
Compton Castle is still the family home of the Gilbert family, from where explorer and adventurer Sir Humphrey Gilbert set out on his expedition to Newfoundland with plans to set up a colony.
Although the expedition was forced to return home and Sir Humphrey died on the way back after his ship sank, he did claim Newfoundland for Queen Elizabeth I and is considered to be a pioneer of the English colonial empire in North America, which can be said to have eventually grown into the British Empire.
In fact, Newfoundland did not join with the rest
of Canada in 1867 but remained a British colony until 1948.
Other events planned include a visit to Plymouth, with its citadel and old harbour, on Monday, April 10; while the following day Bideford and Barnstaple will run a full programme of events, including talks, museum visits, displays, pottery workshops and a procession through the town to the quay.
Those interested in family history will be able to visit Tree House in Exeter, the research centre of the Devon Family History Society: there will be a family history help desk there on April 11, as well as a talk and display in Bideford.