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Franklin's Lost Expedition Memorial - Chapel of St Peter & St Paul, ORNC, Greenwich, London, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Master Mariner
N 51° 29.001 W 000° 00.314
30U E 707929 N 5707830
Quick Description: In the entrance vestibule to the St Peter and St Paul Chapel, in the Old Royal Naval College (ORNC) in Greenwich, is this memorial to John Franklin and the crews of the ships "Erebus" and "Terror" who persihed in the Arctic when becoming icebound.
Location: London, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 1/28/2015 1:44:50 AM
Waymark Code: WMN9YA
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member 8Nuts MotherGoose
Views: 1

Long Description:

The St Peter and St Paul chapel is open from 10am to 5pm Monday to Saturday and 12.30pm to 5pm on Sunday.

The two ships, "Erebus" and "Terror", left England in 1845 with Franklin plus 128 men who were all lost. The mission was to try and locate and traverse the, as yet, the last unnavigated section of the North West Passage. The two ships became icebound in the Victoria Strait close to King William Island in the Canadian Arctic.

Wikipedia takes up the story:

Pressed by Franklin's wife, Jane, Lady Franklin, and others, the Admiralty launched a search for the missing expedition in 1848. Prompted in part by Franklin's fame and the Admiralty's offer of a finder's reward, many subsequent expeditions joined the hunt, which at one point in 1850 involved eleven British and two American ships. Several of these ships converged off the east coast of Beechey Island, where the first relics of the expedition were found, including the graves of three crewmen. In 1854, explorer John Rae, while surveying near the Canadian Arctic coast southeast of King William Island, acquired relics of and stories about the Franklin party from the Inuit. A search led by Francis Leopold McClintock in 1859 discovered a note left on King William Island with details about the expedition's fate. Searches continued through much of the 19th century. Finally, in 2014, a Canadian search team located HMS Erebus west of O'Reilly Island, in the eastern portion of Queen Maud Gulf, in the waters of the Arctic archipelago.

In 1981, a team of scientists led by Owen Beattie, a professor of anthropology at the University of Alberta, began a series of scientific studies of the graves, bodies, and other physical evidence left by Franklin crew members on Beechey Island and King William Island. They concluded that the crew members whose graves had been found on Beechey Island most likely died of pneumonia and perhaps tuberculosis and that lead poisoning may have worsened their health, owing to badly soldered cans held in the ships' food stores. However, it was later suggested that the source of this lead may not have been tinned food, but the distilled water systems fitted to the expedition’s ships.[2] Cut marks on human bones found on King William Island were seen as signs of cannibalism. The combined evidence of all studies suggested that hypothermia, starvation, lead poisoning and disease including scurvy, along with general exposure to a hostile environment whilst lacking adequate clothing and nutrition, killed everyone on the expedition in the years following its last sighting by Europeans in 1845.

The Victorian media portrayed Franklin as a hero despite the expedition's failure and the reports of cannibalism. Songs were written about him, and statues of him in his home town, in London, and in Tasmania credit him with discovery of the Northwest Passage. Franklin's lost expedition has been the subject of many artistic works, including songs, verse, short stories, and novels, as well as television documentaries.

The memorial is inscribed:

To the Memory of
Rear Adniral Sr John Franklin Kt KCH
and of the undermentioned officers
of Her Mejesty's Discovery Ships
Erebus and Terror

There follows two lists of names of the senior personnel - one for each ship. This is followed by:

also in Memory of
The several Petty Officers, Seamen and Royal Marines,
who sailed from England in the ships above named;
and who, with their respective officers,
lost their lives in the service of their country;
while emplyed on a voyage to the Arctic Seas,
in search of a North West Passage.
AD 1845 - 1854.

At the base of the monument is a further inscription that advises:

Beneath lie the remains
of one of Frnaklins companions
who perished in the Arctic Regions
1848
Discovered and brough away from
King William's Land by Captain Hall
the United States Arctic Explorer
1869

The Victorian Web website tells us about the memorial, that is 10 feet high by 8 feet wide and created by Richard Westmacott Jr:

Jane Franklin, Sir John's widow, was disappointed in this memorial: it "fell far short of the heroic image that she required", and was besides hidden from view in an in an alcove by the stairs of the Painted Hall. Yet others appreciated it: "There is a good deal of originality in the conception of this work," wrote one contemporary commentator in the Art-Journal ("Monumental Commemorations").

On the left, a fresh-looking expedition member studies a chart, with ships' masts and sails rising behind him: all is ready for the great adventure. On the right, a dispirited figure slumps on the right, wearing snow gear, his equipment resting too beside him, and tall shelves of ice towering in the background. As the Art-Journal commentator pointed out, the ships' masts are equalled in height by the icebergs on the other side, indicating the "hopeless wildness" that the expedition has penetrated. In this way, the story of the ill-fated expedition is shown from beginning to end, with the figure on the left preparing for the expedition, and the one on the right dragged down by its unendurable rigours: "of the long dark years that lie between these two figures, when shall the story be told?".

The story of the human remains buried here is another mystery. The monument and the remains have been moved, first from beside the stairs of the Painted Hall under the dome opposite, then again from there to behind the altar of the College Chapel, and finally to this spot only in 2009. Further investigations have suggested that the remains might actually belong to the team's assistant surgeon and naturalist, Harry Goodsir. Probably, even with the advances in DNA identification, we shall never know for sure whose bones are buried here. But at least, as Andrew Lambert says, the monument that so strikingly conveys the tragedy is now itself in full "public view".

Original Location: N 51° 28.997 W 000° 00.352

How it was moved: Disassembled

Type of move: Inside City

Building Status: Public

Related Website: [Web Link]

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