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Ages 11 to 14

My lesson on the black presence in Tudor times begins with a picture of the Drake Jewel, given to Sir Francis Drake (pictured wearing the jewel around his waist) by Elizabeth I to recognise his work with the Cimaroons (freed slaves in the Caribbean), fighting against the Spanish. The pendant shows Elizabeth on one side and a bust of an African male in front of a European figure on the other.

I use these intriguing figures to draw out the connections between the start of the British Empire, slavery, and the start of a settled black presence in Britain. Using resources from the "Black Presence" section of the National Archives website (, I show how it became increasingly common for Africans and Asians to work as servants in England in the 16th century - debunking the myth that black people arrived in England in the 1940s on the SS Windrush.

Then we look at Elizabethan attitudes to poverty and Elizabeth's attempt to remove the "blackmoores", as a reaction to worsening economic conditions.

It makes for interesting discussion when compared with current debates about race, asylum and immigration

Dan Lyndon is head of history at Henry Compton School in Fulham, London See the Drake Jewel, and find other black history resources and links at

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