THE birthplace of explorer Sir Francis Drake, who defeated the Spanish Armada, is crumbling to ruins due to ‘benign neglect’, experts have warned.
The hero of the Elizabethan era, who famously insisted on finishing his game of bowls before defending queen and country, was born at the Grade II listed Crowndale Farm in 1540.
But the site in Tavistock, Devon, has fallen into a state of complete disrepair.
Trustees won consent to secure the premises with a temporary roof some years ago, but no action was taken and historians now fear an important part of British history could be lost forever.
Simon Dell, of the Tavistock Local History Society, said the barn where Drake was born, to tenant farmer parents Edmund and Mary, was at ‘risk of collapse’.
And Plymouth university history professor Harry Bennett said: ‘It is very sad to see it in such a state.
‘Drake was a remarkable figure,’ he added. ‘On the one hand, a national saviour, whose voyages of exploration opened up the New World and paid off the national debt. On the other, he was a pirate and slaver who helped initiate one of the darkest trades in human history.
‘Preserving what remains of the world Drake knew allows us to tell that story, but we are in danger of losing touch with the landscape of his youth.’
Devon county councillor Debo Sellis is also worried about the barn’s ‘sorry state’ and hopes to work with trustees to ‘bring the building back up to standard’.
Trustee Rex Buscombe, said: ‘We are aware the roof has collapsed. It is receiving attention.’