Nelson & His World

Discussion on the life and times of Admiral Lord Nelson
It is currently Tue Oct 27, 2020 1:05 am

All times are UTC [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 12 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Update on plans for the Minotaur's Union Flag from Trafalgar
PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 1:06 pm 
Offline

Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2008 7:11 pm
Posts: 1258
Location: England
What follows is an update on the plans of the church of St Mary the Virgin, Selling, Kent, to dispose of the Minotaur’s union flag from the Battle of Trafalgar, together with a flag from the captured Neptuno. The issues surrounding the church’s announcement were fully aired in this thread: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=1259

Those of you who wrote letters of objection or comment to the Canterbury Diocesan Registrar will lately have received the details of the church’s revised plans.

A couple of months ago we were all relieved to hear that the church was not intending to sell the flags on the open market, and had been in negotiations with the National Maritime Museum. However, this left open a number of issues:

  • That the church had been secretly negotiating with the NMM without consulting the Hilton family (the church’s discussions with the NMM had taken place over the two preceding years)
  • Whether the church was entitled to dispose of the flags without the agreement of the Hilton family
  • Whether there had been proper investigation into the possibility of retaining the flags in the church or in the closer vicinity of Selling
  • Whether it would be right for the church to receive a financial return (especially from a public-funded body) from the sale of the flags – clearly not something envisaged by the original donor

At the time the church announced it was in negotiations with the NMM, it was the Hilton family’s wishes that ideally the flags should be replaced in the church if this were possible. As the church had embarked on the legal process to dispose of the flags without consulting the Hilton family, and as this process was apparently continuing despite the family’s concerns, the Hilton family were initially forced to oppose the transfer to the NMM while they investigated the practicalities of the flags being displayed in the church.

During the last couple of months, the Hilton family have concluded that it would be difficult to overcome the security and environmental problems of displaying the flags in the church, and there have also been direct discussions between the NMM and the family which then led to further discussions between the family and the vicar. I am pleased to report that as a result of all this, there is now agreement on the way forward, and the Hilton family now support the revised plan for transfer of flags to the NMM, where they would be displayed in the forthcoming permanent gallery, ‘Nelson, Navy and Nation’. The revised proposals now take into account the concerns of the Hilton family, and the points raised by the various societies and many individuals who commented on the proposed disposal.

Under the new proposals, the proceeds from the sale of the flags to the NMM will go to a trust fund whose trustees would be the Vicar of Selling, a churchwarden and a member of the Hilton family. This trust fund would then provide for:

  • Continuation of the Hilton legacy in the church through the display of replica flags, and exhibiting the story of the Flags, Trafalgar and the Hiltons
  • Adapting and enhancing the Hilton Chapel for this purpose
  • Help local children visit the Flags at Greenwich
  • Support relevant and appropriate research projects

I am personally very pleased there is now an agreed way forward and I support the revised proposals. I do, however, remain shocked at the tortuous route by which agreement has been reached!

The one thing that I do believe is missing from the proposals is a firm commitment from the NMM for the long term display of the flags. The NMM have said they would be unable to commit to permanent display of the flags for the technical reason that the flags would need to be removed from display for periods of ‘rest’, as well as for conservation work. However, I believe transfer of ownership to the NMM should be made conditional on the frequent and regular public display of the flags. While there is no doubt over the NMM’s present intentions, it is not difficult to envisage a time in the distant future when a change in fashion on the portrayal of British naval history results in the flags permanently disappearing into a dark vault.

_________________
Tony


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Update on plans for the Minotaur's Union Flag from Trafalgar
PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 5:41 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sat Feb 23, 2008 9:11 am
Posts: 1376
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Tony,

I had just such an e-mail from the Canterbury Diocesian Registrar, or rather from his administrator Mr Sims, giving rather more information than we were privy to earlier in the proceedings, which should surely have been made known at the time. As the registrar said, use of words such as 'disposal' did not help and it could have been better worded.

Having read the full church announcement, which had somewhat of a calming effect(!), I e-mailed Mr Sims and informed him that, since I was a member of two of the Societies who had strongly objected, and not having a close vested interest, I would abrogate my objection to them.

I do however have the same misgivings as you do, certainly with regard to your last point, and the whole subject of the transfer to the NMM leaves one with a feeling of underhandedness.

_________________
Kester.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Update on plans for the Minotaur's Union Flag from Trafalgar
PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 6:13 pm 
Offline

Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2008 7:11 pm
Posts: 1258
Location: England
Devenish wrote:
I had just such an e-mail from the Canterbury Diocesian Registrar, or rather from his administrator Mr Sims, giving rather more information than we were privy to earlier in the proceedings, which should surely have been made known at the time.
The 'Statement of Need' sent out by the Registrar, which details the plans for the flags, was written by Selling Parochial Church Council only at the end of last month, following receipt of the many letters of objection, and after discussions with the Hilton family finally took place. Although the document appears to suggest that these had been the plans from the outset, it is clear that much of the detail in the plan has been added as direct result of these discussions and the comment received from individuals and societies. Thus some of the information could not have been made known at the time, as it was not then part of the church's plans!

I would like to thank all those who wrote letters of comment or objection, and thus helped to steer the formulation of the detailed plans.

_________________
Tony


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Update on plans for the Minotaur's Union Flag from Trafalgar
PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:28 am 
Offline
Site Admin

Joined: Sun Feb 17, 2008 11:06 am
Posts: 2821
Location: mid-Wales
Many thanks to Tony for bringing this matter to wider attention. I agree that the revised proposals for the care of the flags seem acceptable, with the proviso that the flags will be publicly displayed as much as is possible, consistent with their preservation, and not left to 'rest' in storage for long periods.

I also feel that the church's conduct over this matter has been less than exemplary. I am fully understanding of the problems facing small congregations who have the responsibility of maintaining historic buildings and the artefacts within them, with no public funding whatsoever. That said, the secretive nature of the discussions with the NMM, and the manner in which the church sought to dispose of these flags, without consultation with the donor's family, or making it clear in the original description, that they were of great historic and monetary value, is disappointing. When concerns were raised, the church gave pious assurances that the flags would not be sold abroad, or offered for public auction, and reminded us that 'we should not believe all we read in the papers', the implication being that the negotiations with the NMM were to ensure only the preservation of the flags, with no hint that this was also a commercial transaction. It is a sorry tale of bad faith and duplicity. We must be grateful, at least, that the flags have been saved, and their connection with Selling made known to a wider public.

_________________
Anna


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Update on plans for the Minotaur's Union Flag from Trafalgar
PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 12:01 pm 
Offline

Joined: Wed Dec 17, 2008 10:40 pm
Posts: 1088
Is anyone else receiving updates from the Diocese of Canterbury as I am.

Quite a lot in the latest one which I haven't time to read in detail.

But the upshot seems to be the sale of the 2 flags to the NMM. Seeing a couple of different figures here but circa £170K.

The NMM to provide replicas - presumably for display in the church.

The Union flag to go on display in a permanent gallery at the NMM - "Navy, Nation and Nelson, 1688-1815" due to open in mid-2013.

Somebody please shout if I got anything here wrong.

IMHO it seems a reasonable resolution of this issue.

MB


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: Update on plans for the Minotaur's Union Flag from Trafalgar
PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 4:45 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sat Feb 23, 2008 9:11 am
Posts: 1376
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Mark,

I had notification of this through a member of the Nelson Society, and you would seem to be substantially correct, although I believe the higher figure is £175,000 – as far as I understand it £150,000 for the Union Flag, and £25,000 for the Austrian ensign. Replica flags are to be made and, as you say, will presumably to be placed in the church.

I also think this is a reasonable conclusion, and means that they are be on display in what is stated will be a permanent gallery, save perhaps for periods of conservation and maintainance. Being placed in the NMM will probably also mean that a larger number of people will see certainly the Union Flag than if they had been displayed in Kent, at Chatham or elsewhere in the county.

However I am sure that some, from Kent especially, will not agree with them going to the NMM. It will be interesting to see them at some stage.

_________________
Kester.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Update on plans for the Minotaur's Union Flag from Trafalgar
PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:03 pm 
Offline

Joined: Wed Dec 17, 2008 10:40 pm
Posts: 1088
Thanks Kester

That figure of £175K makes sense.

MB


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: Update on plans for the Minotaur's Union Flag from Trafalgar
PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2012 6:42 am 
Offline
Site Admin

Joined: Sun Feb 17, 2008 11:06 am
Posts: 2821
Location: mid-Wales
We must be grateful that the flags are to be held in the permanent collections of the NMM and not sold abroad or into private hands.
They will make a vibrant contribution to the proposed display. However, is there a possibility that the display will not be permanent and that the flags might be held in storage for long periods? Their conservation will, we hope, now be assured, and scholars will be able to have access to them even if they are not on public display;but it will be a pity if the flags do end up in storage for long periods. Maybe there could be some sort of arrangement that ensures the flags are on display for at least part of the year, perhaps round about Trafalgar Day and Nelson's birthday a few weeks before on 29th September?

_________________
Anna


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Update on plans for the Minotaur's Union Flag from Trafalgar
PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2012 12:13 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sat Feb 23, 2008 9:11 am
Posts: 1376
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Anna,

From the information that I received, it would appear that the NMM consider 'permanent' exhibitions to mean ten years, whilst 'temporary ones' are of a few months duration. That means they could be taken off display after that time, although of course they may be removed before then (and presumably returned to the gallery afterwards) if further conservation is needed. However, they go on to say that as the flags belong to the nation, it would be possible to see the flags even if they are not on display, but in storage. The NMM say they will make provision to do this if requested.

The pdf documents I have been sent include both the sale document from Selling Church, and two from the NMM. One of the latter includes an interesting assessment from the NMM's conservator, both about the present condition of the flags and what will need to be done to them for display. There are also a few photographs of the projected new gallery and the place of the Union Flag in it, together with photographs of other items to be displayed – including Nelson's uniform coat.

The information is from the Diocesian Registrar, Kevin Sims, and I wondered if someone should contact him to see if it would be possible to put it on WON? If he has any objection, it could be pointed out that we have a secure members-only thread. I think this would be worthwhile, as I am sure all on this site would find it of interest.

_________________
Kester.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Update on plans for the Minotaur's Union Flag from Trafalgar
PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2012 11:33 am 
Offline

Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2008 7:11 pm
Posts: 1258
Location: England
A few words of caution here: The Church Commissary General has not yet approved the transfer of the flags to the NMM. Some of the latest supporting documentation doesn't appear to include the sale proceeds going to the trust fund previously proposed, and there seems to be an outstanding question over ownership of the flags, all of which may complicate things. The NMM is also talking about a fund raising exercise to enable them to acquire the flags. Also, given the time needed for the conservation work required on the flags, I think there must be grave doubt as to whether the flags can be on display in the new permanent gallery "Navy, Nation and Nelson, 1688-1815" when it first opens, which would be a great shame.

_________________
Tony


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Update on plans for the Minotaur's Union Flag from Trafalgar
PostPosted: Sun Mar 10, 2013 4:37 pm 
Offline

Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2008 7:11 pm
Posts: 1258
Location: England
I am very pleased to report that the Church Commissary General has finally (on 1st March) issued a judgment (which some of you may have received) approving in principle the transfer of the flags to the NMM.

There are still details to be agreed before the faculty permitting the transfer will be issued, but things can at last move forward. The form of the replica flags to be provided to the church will need to be approved by the Commissary General after discussions also involving the Hilton family and the Diocesan Advisory Committee. Also needing approval will be the contracts and the trust deed for the trust fund which will receive the proceeds of the sale.

It was hoped that Minotaur’s Union Flag would go on display in the new permanent gallery, ‘Nelson, Navy and Nation’ when it opens this year, but before that can happen the NMM will also have to raise funds for the purchase, and carry out the necessary conservation work on the flag, which may take a considerable time. The opening of the gallery has now been put back to Trafalgar Day, which gains a little more time, but it seems to me that time is running out fast.

Minotaur’s tattered and battle worn Union flag, once it is on display at the NMM, will be a wonderfully evocative and iconic emblem, but the stories surrounding it are also fascinating. The flag was brought home by Minotaur Master’s Mate Stephen Hilton, but he was not the only member of the Hilton family present at Trafalgar. His brother Robert was surgeon’s assistant in Swiftsure, and wrote a vivid account of the battle and the following storm, with a dramatic description of the sinking of Redoutable and the rescue of the few survivors. But six months after the battle, Robert deserted ship at Gibraltar, and until last year nothing was known of his whereabouts for the rest of the war. My research last year showed that the stories of Stephen’s triumphant return with his battle trophy and his brother Robert’s desertion intertwine in an intriguing twist of deception, collusion and family loyalty. I was able to establish that Stephen Hilton had assisted Robert in his desertion, and show that Robert returned to England in the captured Spanish Bahama, captained by Minotaur’s First Lieutenant, newly promoted to Commander, while Stephen himself returned in Dreadnought for his promotion to Lieutenant.

The story is told in my article ‘Family First: The Hilton Brothers at the Battle of Trafalgar’, in the recent issue of the Trafalgar Chronicle, published at the end of 2012. The article examines their family’s connections and their older brother George’s earlier service with Minotaur’s captain, Charles Mansfield, and the three brothers’ careers leading up to and including Trafalgar and its aftermath, including a detailed account of Robert’s escape.

Apologies for the shameless plug, but those that have followed the saga of the flags may well enjoy the wider story.

_________________
Tony


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Update on plans for the Minotaur's Union Flag from Trafalgar
PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 8:48 am 
Offline

Joined: Sat Feb 23, 2008 9:11 am
Posts: 1376
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Tony,

Many thanks for the update. It's good to know that things are finally being settled, seemingly to the benefit of all parties. As you say though, it doesn't seem even remotely likely that the flags will be on display when the new exhibition opens at the NMM.

The manner in which the flags were originally brought to England is a story in itself, and I am sure many will find it intriguing. I'm afraid I haven't gotten around reading your article as yet, but it's on the 'to do' list! :wink:

_________________
Kester.


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 12 posts ] 

All times are UTC [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron
Powered by p h p B B © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 p h p B B Group