Archery Clubs of Devon and Cornwall. Original antique print published October 2nd in 1852 in ‘The Illustrated London News’ above the following caption:
“Grand meeting of the Devon and Cornwall Archery Clubs, at Bitton Manor, Teignmouth.”
Bitton Manor was the former home of Sir Edward Pellew, an ex-naval officer who settled in Teignmouth in the early 19th century.
In 1816, as part of the Royal Navy’s campaign against slavery, Sir Edward led the Bombardment of Algiers, securing the release of 1200 Christian slaves in the city.
Today, Bitton House, in Bitton Park, is the home of Teignmouth Town Council, at the entrance of which stand two cannon, captured by Admiral Pellew from the Barbary slave traders.
Bitton Manor no longer hosts Devon archery contests.
Although the Devon and Cornwall Archery Society is one of the oldest archery organisations, we must look back to mediaeval England to find the story of organised archery.
In 1252, the first medieval archery law was passed in England requiring all men from 15 to 60 to train in archery.
King Edward III’s declaration of 1363 contained the words ” every man … if he be able-bodied, shall, upon holidays, make use, in his games, of bows and arrows…and so learn and practise archery.”
As a consequence English and Welsh bowmen excelled as archers. On October 25, 1415 (Saint Crispin’s Day) King Henry V led a smaller army comprised of almost 80 per cent archers against a superior French force and defeated them.
William Shakespeare, in his play Henry V, recalled the Battle of Agincourt
The connection between archers and the Sovereign continues to this day.
The Royal Company of Archers, formed in 1676 have, since 1822, performed the role of the sovereign’s ‘Body Guard in Scotland’.
When requested to do so by H. M. the Queen, ‘the Archers’ perform their duty at State and ceremonial occasion taking place in Scotland.