Replica of the Golden hind docked in St. Mary Dock Overie, London
In 1577 Elizabeth I of England chose Sir Francis Drake as the leader of an expedition intended to pass around South America through the Strait of Magellan and to explore the coast that lay beyond. The queen's support was advantageous; he had official approval to benefit himself and the queen as well as to cause the maximum damage to the Spaniards. This would eventually culminate into the Anglo-Spanish War. Before setting sail, Drake met the queen face-to-face for the first time and she said to him, "We would gladly be revenged on the King of Spain for divers injuries that we have received." The explicit object was to "find out places meet to have traffic." Drake, however, acted as a privateer, with unofficial support from Queen Elizabeth. He set sail in December with five small ships, manned by 164 men, and reached the Brazilian coast in the spring of 1578. His flagship, the Pelican, which Drake renamed the Golden Hind, displaced only about 100 tons. On 1 March 1579, the Golden Hind took the Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de la Concepción, which had the largest treasure captured to that date: over 360,000 Pesos. The six tons of treasure took six days to transship. Subsequently Drake sailed North, probably to around San Francisco Bay, claiming this land as 'Nova Albion', leaving on 23 July. He then came back across the Pacific, reaching the Cape of Good Hope on 18 June 1580 and Sierra Leone on 22 July. On 26 September 1580, Francis Drake took his ship into Plymouth Harbour with only 56 of the original crew of 100 left aboard. Despite his piratical conduct on his voyages, Queen Elizabeth herself went aboard the Golden Hind, which was lying at Deptford in the Thames estuary, and personally bestowed a knighthood on him; her share of the treasure came to almost £160,000: "enough to pay off her entire foreign debt and still have £40,000 left over to invest in a new trading company for the Levant. Her return and that of other investors came to £47 for every £1 invested, or a total return of 4,700%."
After Drake's circumnavigation the Golden Hind was maintained for public exhibition in Deptford. This is the earliest known example of a ship being maintained for public display because of its historic significance. Golden Hind remained there for nearly 100 years before she eventually rotted away and was finally broken up.
The table in the Middle Temple Hall (in the City of London) is reputed to have been made from the wood of the Golden Hind, as is a chair in the Great Hall, Buckland Abbey, Devon.