The ghosts of the Order of the Pearl

Everything is set for tomorrow’s hunt for the lost Pearl of Plymouth. Last night I completed the final ritual of four to call back the ghosts of the Order of the Pearl, those pioneers, adventurers and explorers who protected the pearl through the generations. I’m certain that those dead Order members can help lead us to the pearl tomorrow. I used the same spell I used at Plymouth Museum when some of you joined me to conduct the ritual with the Drake Cup.


For each ritual I’ve laid the Order flag out on the floor, laid pebbles from the Hoe foreshore around the edges and used an old ship’s compass to lay four candles marking North (Earth), South (Fire), East (Air) and West (Water). A conch filled with sea water is laid to the West, the scroll from the pearl sea chest to the East, a ship’s anchor to the North and incense burning in the South. Each time I’ve read these words from the scroll:

‘To the souls who find this pearl

Falls custody ancient power –

the balance twixt land and sea,

the battle twixt light and dark.

Beware forces unsettlin’ the axis,

protect her and ye’ll prosper.’

Atlantis sea scroll

Scroll from Atlantis found with the pearl

When that’s complete, I recite the Order motto ‘Orbes Novos Per Casus’ (New Worlds Through Adventure) to call the Order back to the city.

During the first ritual with the Drake Cup in the Museum I sensed a subtle shift in the atmosphere when the ritual was completed.

The Drake Cup at Plymouth Museum

The Drake Cup at Plymouth Museum

During the second ritual with the Drake Jewel in the Victoria and Albert Museum a glint and sparkle passed over the pearl pendant.

The Drake Jewel

The Drake Jewel

During the third ritual with the Drake Drum at Buckland Abbey the drum began to beat a light war beat of its own accord.

The Drake Drum

The Drake Drum

Last night at Drake’s Island the impact was more extreme. I’ll explain when I see you tomorrow…

Hall of Records text on the legend of the Pearl

Last year my research took me to the Hall of Records to find out more about the pearl Drake found on his voyage of circumnavigation and its connection to the lost continent of Atlantis.

My grandma had told me lots of stories of how the pearl was guarded in Plymouth by ‘The Order of the Pearl’ for generations and travelled as a talisman on voyages of adventure and discovery with pioneers and explorers who sailed from Plymouth, but her knowledge of its history before 1580 was patchy.

I was hoping some investigation at the Hall of Records would throw some light on the older history of the pearl. I wasn’t disappointed. In the Egyptian library I found this folio written in ancient Atlantean script:

Hall of Records text

Here’s my best attempt at a translation:

The Legend of the Pearl

Inside the energy chamber, in the temple at the centre of Atlantis, amongst the Atlantean crystals that govern the energy fields of our fair kingdom, lies a rare pearl that has been guarded by generations of our people. 

The pearl was found deep at the source of the ocean by a brave Atlantean explorer and has been protected inside an enchanted armillary sphere since its discovery many years ago. 

It is larger than any pearl seen before and we have learnt much about its ability to harness the forces of the ocean and uphold the balance twixt land and sea. Should the pearl ever be separated from the sphere that balance will be unsettled, unleashing the dark forces of the ocean and disrupting the energy fields of the entire planet. 

An energy imbalance may be imperceptible at first, but soon the consequences will accelerate and the most feared beast of the ocean will grow in stature and size. Mergor’s reach will stretch across small countries until the Earth is finally, and decisively, dominated by the sea. 

The only clue we have is that its presence will be signified by a distinctive dark mark. There is no telling how that might emerge but the impact will be global. First, the low lying regions will disappear beneath the waves, then lighthouses, chimneys, church spires and temples will be swallowed. The devastation will continue until the tallest peak of the highest mountain is lost under water forever.

For this reason, great care must be taken over the protection of the pearl. 

This folio is central to why I’m so determined that the pearl must be found. The pearl’s magical powers were weakened when Nancy Astor separated it from the armillary sphere during the Second World War to protect it from bombs. If we find it, we can restore its powers again and halt the spread of the dark mark.

Principles of the Order of the Pearl

This is one of the main reasons I’m certain the pearl is hidden somewhere in Plymouth. I found this pamphlet featuring the principles of the Order of the Pearl in the attic at Plymouth Arts Centre.

Principles of the Order of the Pearl

I got a call one day from my friend who works there saying she’d found something she thought I’d be interested in. I went straight over and she took me up into the attic. No one on the current staff had been up there until that day. It was carpeted in dust and massive cobwebs were hanging from the eaves. They’d discovered all sorts in there that morning: old film reels, love notes from the 1930s and an ornate old box which had some of Nancy Astor’s possessions inside.

The Astors had acquired the Victory House Boys and Girls Club in 1918, and in 1924-5 the purchase and conversion of the neighbouring church buildings allowed the whole site to be redeveloped and opened as the Virginia House Settlement, named after Nancy’s birthplace. The facilities have changed over the years. It was originally described as a ‘Welfare Work Centre,’ parts became a base for voluntary social services and the Plymouth Arts Centre opened on Looe Street in 1948.

My friend found the box buried in a corner under film cans, blankets, an array of mops and old posters. She gave me an opportunity to investigate all the contents and I made this incredible find.  I’ve had it analysed by forensic scientists to determine the age and origin and they said it is vellum dating back to late 16th Century, England. So, this could well be the very first place the principles of the Order of the Pearl were written down after Drake devised them.

Queen Elizabeth I letter establishing the Order of the Pearl

I found this letter/court order from Queen Elizabeth I to Sir Francis Drake amongst Grandma Betsy’s papers when I was sorting through them after she died. It was written the day after the Queen knighted Drake aboard the Golden Hind in London, and just a few months after he’d returned from circumnavigating the globe.

That same day he secretly presented the pearl as a gift to the Queen. She reportedly admired it greatly but was perturbed that its glow had dimmed since arriving in the capital. She told Drake that its power must lie in being by the sea and asked him to guard it in Plymouth. This is how and why it became to be known as the Pearl of Plymouth.

At the same time, Queen Elizabeth declared all written accounts of Drake’s voyage secrets of the Realm. Drake and those who sailed with him were also sworn to secrecy on pain of death. Hence why the finding of the pearl has such a secret history and the Order of the Pearl was established.

queen elizabeth I letter

Queen Elizabeth I letter to Drake establishing the Order of the Pearl