DEVON’S past is bought to life through Rosemary Griggs’ time-defying post-retirement career; writing, researching, and educating about the stories of Devon women in the 16th Century.

She appears as Lady Katherine Raleigh at her many talks and charity events. Wearing homemade historical clothing is one of the many ways that she connects the people of today with those who went before. She also has a vast knowledge of the period and an immersive and engaging character.

She creates a vividity in her character by ‘inhabiting the world they lived in’. She said: ‘As soon as I put the clothes on, I’m someone else.’

At Compton Castle, where she volunteered for the National Trust, where she was asked to make her own costume.

She said ‘I knew that it would never been enough to have something that just looked alright on the outside. I wanted to know how they put them together, what went on to create the shapes, where the fabrics came from.’ This started her on a long period of research and fascination with the 16th Century.

‘The aim is to be in their world. My big interest is all the places that people who were alive then would have been familiar with. In lots of our Devon churches and old buildings, you can just feel the veil of time lifting.’

Devon is great place for this. There is ‘masses of history in Newton Abbot’.

‘The first place you need to look is our churches, in between them the land was divided between Newton Bushel on one side of the river, and Newton Abbot on the other. It was on the lands of Torre Abbey. The twin lands come together in the 1200’s and it became an important market town.

‘There are big links to Walter Raleigh because…his half-brother, John, had a house on Union Street. Bradley Manor goes back to the early 14th C, its wonderfully well preserved, Newton Abbot also had a visit from Charles I, and you look round and think ‘oh it’s just an ordinary town!”’

‘Devon too, is extremely important. A lot of people think about Devon as a bit of a back water, a long way from the courts. The reality is that Devon is really important; we’ve got a huge coastline, ports, we also, for hundreds of years, have been really good at producing cloth, we have tin from the mines on Dartmoor.

‘There has been a lot of trade from Devon ports and over the years the merchant ships started to encounter pirates, so put guns on their ships. When we get into the 16th Century, we have armed trading ships. There’s no wonder that we produce all these amazing men like Francis Drake, Hawkins, Walter Raleigh, and Devon plays a part in that.’

► To read more about Rosemary and her books, keep up to date with her appearances, and learn more about Devon through her updates, this is all on her website.