NEW research has unearthed legendary explorer Sir Francis Drake's historical ties to Bridgwater.

Adventurer Michael Turner, 55, from Burnham, has dedicated 30 years to researching the heroic sailor's past.

Michael has backpacked and hitchhiked across the world, and has even been jailed and violently robbed during his travels.

He recently returned from an expedition to Chile, Peru and Ecuador where he covered 2,700 miles to retrace Drake's world voyage between 1577 and 1580.

But it has been his investigations closer to home that has led him to discover Drake and former wife Elizabeth Sydenham's links with Bridgwater Town Council in 1583-84.

He said: “I wondered why the Drakes were in Bridgwater and found recent studies of the first road maps of England which show Bridgwater was on the London to Barnstaple road and the Sydenhams of Monksilver lived within a mile of this road.

“This proves Drake passed through Bridgwater many times between 1583 and 1595 en route from his house in London and court business to his in-laws' home.”

The connection does not end there though, as in 1588, Bridgwater supplied a ship called The William to augment Drake's western squadron at Plymouth to fight the Spanish Armada.

Michael also went the extra mile for his research when he followed the hoofs of Drake's horse in front of Haygrove School and walked along the ancient road which now passes through Enmore Golf Club, surfacing in front of Enmore Church.

On Friday he gave a lecture about his startling discoveries at Oxford University.