HERE LYETH INTERRED THE
BODY OF JOHN BENBOW,
ESQ, ADMIRAL OF THE WHITE
A TRUE PATTERN OF ENGLISH COURAGE,
WHO LOST HIS LIFE
IN DEFENCE OF HIS QUEENE
& COUNTRY NOVEMBER Ye 4
1702, IN THE 52nd YEAR OF
HIS AGE, BY A WOUND IN HIS LEGG
RECEIVED IN AN ENGAGEMENT
WITH MONSr DU CASSE BEING
PEPYS BUILDING, GREENWICH
Busts, head and shoulders, within decorated roundels, of British admirals in uniforms of their period. Each roundel consists of a plain outer moulding with inner circular wreath (laurel?) topped by single rose motif. The base has an inscription panel with each admiral’s surname. The innermost moulding is rimmed by a rope. All are in very high relief. Each head is either more or less face on or at a three quarter turn to the left or right. They run along the top of the north facade of the building facing the river. From left to right (east to west): Anson, Drake, Cook (these first three on east pavilion), Howard, Blake, Benbow, Sandwich (over door), Rodney, Duncan, Collingwood, Howe, Nelson, St Vincent
ADMIRAL BENBOW MEMORIAL, ST. MARYS SHREWSBURY
A memorial was erected to Admiral Benbow in his home parish, in St. Mary’s Church, Shrewsbury in 1843. Henry Pidgeon wrote a short Biographical Notice of Admiral Benbow with a Description of the Monument to mark its erection. He notes that the community originally began to collect funds for such a memorial in 1828, with Admiral Owen, another of Shrewsbury’s courageous townsmen, being a liberal contributor. Unfortunate-ly various circumstances delayed the project until in 1841 the committee under the chairmanship of the Rev. W.G.Roland commissioned the monument to be created by the sculptor John Evan Thomas of London, a pupil of the celebrated Sir Francis Chantry. Pidgeon com-mented on the irony of life in that of those who set out in 1828 to raise such a lasting monument to the Admiral, half had passed away and half of the remaining had left town. Their intention was however admirable, namely that:
this tribute of respect, in remembrance of one whose name is a distinguished ornament to his native place, shall exist when generations shall have passed away, and stimulate the bosom of many a young warrior to heave in emulation of his feats of heroism, and to support, with untiring energy, his country’s cause, and his country’s glory.
This sculpture now hangs on the eastern wall of the Baptistery of St. Mary’s on the left side of the church over the doorway leading to the vestry. It is supported by two brackets which hold the table of the design. Pidgeon described it thus:
Above this, and between two pilasters, supporting a pediment, with a small shield in the centre, is a beautiful representation, in basso relievo, of the celebrated ‘Benbow Frigate’, in full chase of the enemy, and pouring a broadside into another vessel, the stern of which is visible, amid clouds of smoke, in the distance; the foam of the ocean, and other minute details, being cut with extra-ordinary fidelity and effect. Over this rises a pyramid of black marble, on which is a fine medallion bust of the Admiral in alto relievo-considered to be an excellent likeness, as taken from the portrait presented by Mrs. Hind, sister of the Admiral, to the Corporation of Shrewsbury. The Sail of a ship, supported by a yard-arm, appears gracefully suspended over the bust, the lower portion of which, on one side, being entwined round the fluke of an anchor, the corresponding one having a cannon, with the muzzle resting on a cluster of balls.
ERECTED BY PUBLIC SUBSCRIPTION TO COMMEMORATE THE SERVICES OF
JOHN BENBOW ESQ VICE ADMIRAL OF THE BLUE,
A SKILFUL AND DARING SEAMAN
WHOSE HEROIC EXPLOITS LONG RENDERED HIM THE BOAST OF THE BRITISH NAVY
AND STILL POINT HIM OUT AS THE NELSON OF HIS TIMES.
HE WAS BORN AT COTON HILL IN THIS PARISH, AND DIED AT KINGSTON IN JAMAICA,
NOVEMBER 4TH 1702, AGED 51 YEARS
OF WOUNDS RECEIVED IN HIS MEMORABLE ACTION
WITH A FRENCH SQUADRON OFF CARTHAGENA IN THE WEST INDIES,
FOUGHT ON THE 19TH AND FIVE FOLLOWING DAYS OF AUGUST IN THAT YEAR
BENBOW FIGUREHEAD, PORTSMOUTH ROYAL NAVAL DOCKYARD
Admiral Benbow has also been remembered in naval ships. The first, a third rate of 74 guns launched at Rotherhithe in 1813 contributed her figurehead, a gigantic wooden portrait of Benbow, to Portsmouth Royal Naval Dockyard. It stands today in the centre of the courtyard near the entrance. Children climb over the huge brown tresses which used to lead the Benbow into battle as their parents rush by unknowingly, heading to the memorial of a more recent hero, Lord Nelson’s Victory.
FAMOUS MEN OF SHREWSBURY
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