Pelican Inn

The Pelican was the name of the ship that Drake set sail in on his voyage of circumnavigation in 1577, as the vessel was negotiating the perilous Straits of Magellan, Drake had the ship renamed – Golden Hind – in honour of his principal sponsors, Christopher Hatton, whose crest featured the image of a hind (a female deer) and whose family motto “Virtue is the safest helmet” (Cassis Tutis Sima Virtus) was adopted as the ship’s motto.

Centuries later, Charles Kingsley, embellishing the story of Drake playing bowls on the Hoe, in his Westward Ho! appears to have ‘invented’ the notion that the game was played on the green of Ye Pelican Inn. Whilst it is indeed feasible that Drake was at sport in the grounds of a Hoe side hostelry, there is no documentary evidence to support the idea that such a premises may have been called the Pelican, thus what is possibly one of Plymouth’s most famous inns is in fact a piece of literary fiction.