Matthew Flinders

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      Despite several years of research into the life of Matthew Flinders I have been unable to discover the name of the surgeon/physician who attended him in the last weeks of his life in Soho, London in 1814.


        I have started a move to have a plaque placed at the Sallyport in Old Portsmouth to commemorate Matthew Flinders return from Australia in 1810. I understand from English Heritage that I need Scheduled Monument Consent (SMC). I would welcome any advice from any member who has previous experience of this process.


          Re Matthew Flinders plaque:
          Peter’s plan to commemorate Flinders with a plaque by the Sally Port would, I am sure, be welcomed by many. As to the logistics of permissions, my experience is that one needs the explicit support of the owner of the site – probably the City Council in this case – and the backing of an appropriate institution such as the Royal Naval Museum or the SNR before applying for Scheduled Monument Consent.
          Perhaps the Australian High Commission in London would be such a ‘sponsor’. The 1805 Club may also be able to advise on the logistics of gaining SMC.

          Are you in touch with the local council? You also need to make your number with the English Heritage local officer; EH at Swindon should be able to help with that.

          The process can be cumbersome but it works. When we were organising the ceremonial at the Admiralty for the New Trafalgar Dispatch for 2005, we wished to get the terminal Trafalgar Way plaque mounted on the Whitehall side of the Admiralty Screen. We took the opportunity at the same time to push for a separate plaque giving a brief history of the Old Admiralty Office and Admiralty House, as there was then no recognition of the long history of this site.

          We first gained written agreement of the principle from the site ‘owners’, Cabinet Office and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, particularly the then Deputy PM, and also the support of First Sea Lord, and sought advice from the Registrar of the MoD Art Collection as to possible constraints of size, content and style. Armed with these we contacted English Heritage who agreed the principle quite quickly. The detail of content and design – which necessitated adjusting the standard Trafalgar Way plaque for the Admiralty version – took quite a bit longer to negotiate but was no real problem.
          As we had done all these things in advance, the SMC paperwork was then undertaken quickly. The whole process took, I recall, less than a year.

          Commander Robin Whiteside led the team, drafted the text for the OAB historical plaque, defined (with the Admiralty Librarian) an appropriate version of the Admiralty anchor badge, and sorted out the costings, production and mounting. I acted as liaison with the government offices, 1SL and MoD Art Collection, and advised on text. Charlotte Henwood, MoD Art Registrar, liaised with English Heritage on our behalf, as she knew the Admiralty’s local EH officer well.

          The Deputy PM unveiled the unmounted plaques at the NTD ceremony, and both plaques can now be seen on the outside wall of the southern pavilion of the screen.

          Peter, keep us informed of progress of this worthy memorial to an important British maritime explorer.

          P.S. B

            With respect to the original enquiry re Flinders’ surgeon, I notice that one of the witnesses to his will was Joseph Hayes, Surgeon. However, as the will was executed some two years before Flinders’ death, this may not be a reliable indication as to the identity of the surgeon who attended upon him in his last weeks.
            Peter Beeston

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