AS part of the North Devon Day celebrations on Saturday, May 24, Gazette readers are being invited to vote for their favourite North Devon historical character. The Barnstaple Heritage Centre has provided pen pictures of the six characters to make the sho

AS part of the North Devon Day celebrations on Saturday, May 24, Gazette readers are being invited to vote for their favourite North Devon historical character.The Barnstaple Heritage Centre has provided pen pictures of the six characters to make the shortlist and a voting form will be printed in the Gazette well before the event.Here are details of the last three candidates....Sir Francis Chichester - 1901-1972Sir Francis Chichester, aviator and sailor, was born in the old sprawling rectory at Shirwell, where his father was parson. From an early age he was considered to be an individual with a mind of his own, and after attending Marlborough College, at the age of 18 he emigrated to New Zealand. Within ten years he had built up a prosperous business in forestry, mining and property development. The Great Depression hit him hard, and in 1929 he returned to England to visit his family and take delivery of a de Havilland Gipsy Moth aircraft. In December of that year he set out from Croydon to Sydney in his Gipsy moth and became only the second person to fly solo to Australia. Two years later he completed the first solo flight across the Tasman Sea from East to West, and was awarded the Amethyst Johnson Memorial Trophy as a result.In 1966, this - by now - hugely experienced and renowned sailor, decided to circumnavigate the world single handed. On August 27th 1966, at the age of 64, he set out from Plymouth in Gipsy Moth IV, arriving back on 28th May 1967, exactly nine months and one day later having sailed over 15,000 miles. He was knighted by the Queen at Greenwich using Sir Francis drake's sword.Charles Kingsley - 1819-1875.The second son of the Rev Charles Kingsley and his wife, Mary, Charles spend his childhood in Clovelly. He read for Holy Orders at Magdalene College, becoming Rector of Eversley in Hampshire in1844 and was appointed Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge.During his illustrious career, he went on to found the Society for Natural Science and Literature, played a major part in the establishment of the Grosvenor Museum and became the President of the Birmingham and Midland Institute.Kingsley had great concern for social reform, illustrated clearly in his book, The Waterbabies. He was also one of the first men to openly praise Charles darwin's theory of evolution - a brave step for a man with his religious background.But today he is best remembered as the author of the adventure story, Westward Ho! Written in 1855, this exciting and tragic story set in the time of Elizabeth I was an instant best seller. Tourism to North Devon rocketed as a result.Taking advantage of the increase in visitors, the small town of Westward Ho! was built and named after the book, attracting huge amounts of interested Victorian sightseers.Kingsley died in 1875 and a statue of him was erected in Bideford.Grace Beaple - 1580 - 1650Grace Beaple was born in 1580, into the Gay family - one of the several merchant families of the area. At the outbreak of the English Civil War, she was the wealthy widow of Richard Beaple with a fine house in Southgate Street, the old name for the southern part of High Street. Her husband had been a supporter of Parliament, as was most of North Devon at that time.However, Barnstaple was then under Royalist control, who, it was reported, treated the inhabitants, 'most barbarously and cruelly.' In these circumstances Grace showed great bravery in adhering to her royalist sympathies by allowing the Prince of Wales (later Charles II) to stay at her house, when he came to the town for a few weeks. The Prince was only fifteen, so perhaps Grace felt sympathy towards the young man whose life had been so drastically disrupted by civil war. During his stay, she also leant him money.Barnstaple surrendered to the triumphant Parliamentarians the following year. In revenge for her assistance to the Prince, Grace's house and goods were pillaged to the value of two thousand pounds. She died in 1650. Ten years later Charles returned as King and her representatives were granted £200 in respect of her brave actions.n LOOK out next week for the form which will allow you to vote for your favourite North Devon personality. It will also be available online at www.northdevongazette.co.ukWe have already printed pen portraits of John Gay, General Monck and William Rock.