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Gravesend marks the life of Native American princess Pocahontas

A commemorative procession will celebrate the life of Native American princess Pocahontas who died in Gravesend 400 years ago.

School children and artists have been working to create decorations, based on the theme of peace and reconciliation.

These will be carried during the parade, which will start at 1.30pm today and wind its way through the town.

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Lola Myers, seven, and her 10-year-old brother Dougie making giant feathers
Lola Myers, seven, and her 10-year-old brother Dougie making giant feathers

Youngsters will display giant feathers, similar to those decorating Native American headdresses. There will also be other colourful pieces of work.

The procession will make its way from St Andrew’s Gardens, next to the River Thames, along the High Street and Jury Street to St George’s Church in Church Street.

Once at the church, the Bishop of Rochester, James Langstaff, will officiate the service with the commemorations led by Lord Lieutenant of Kent, Lord De L’Isle, and mayor of Gravesham, Cllr Greta Goatley, in front of invited guests.

Video: Gravesend celebrates Pocahontas on the 400th anniversary of her death

The church was chosen because many people believe the princess’s remains are buried somewhere nearby, having been rescued after the previous church was destroyed by fire.

There is a statue of her outside.

The procession and service will be the culmination of several months of talks, tours, performances and other events as part of the Pocahontas 400 project.

The Pocahontas statue in Gravesend town centre
The Pocahontas statue in Gravesend town centre

The council’s cabinet member for tourism and heritage, Cllr Jordan Meade (Con), said: “The Pocahontas 400 project was launched in June 2016 and has already gone some way to commemorating the unique story of Pocahontas’s time in England from 1616 to 1617 but we have more still to come.

“We really want to highlight the key events of the months leading up to her death and to retell her story for today’s generation.”

People are welcome to gather at St Andrew’s Arts Centre for the parade but the church service is invitation only due to limited space.

A two-part Peace Tree sculpture, made from recycled paper and cardboard by residents and artist Jo Dyer of Animate Arts, will feature in the parade.

The tree symbolises peace and friendship between Gravesend and Pocahontas’s homeland of Virginia.

Ms Dyer said: “It is an absolute honour to create an artwork with the community in celebration of Pocahontas and all the community-minded values she represented.

Another artist, Katrin Albrecht, has been helping primary school children make feather flags to wave during the parade.

Pocahontas 400 was organised by Gravesham council with funding from Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England and Celebrate England Funding.

For more details, click here.

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