Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Saturday, 11 June 2022

Finding ‘HMS Gloucester’

The recent identification of the wreck of HMS Gloucester’ which sank off Great Yarmouth in 1682 whilst taking the Duke of York - later King James II and VII - and his entourage to Edinburgh has attracted attention from the media.

Finds from the ship, including its bell which definitely identified it, are illustrated in the articles and will go on display at an exhibition in Norwich esrly next year.

As the reports point out there is an element of “what might have been” to the story of the loss of the ship in that amongst the survivors of the wreck were both the future King and John Churchill, the future Duke of Marlborough. Had they not survived the events of the King’s reign and exile, or the victories of the War of the Spanish Succession might very well not have happened. The history of the British Isles and indeed of the wider world might have been very different, for good or ill.

The reports of the discovery of HMS Gloucester and of its place in history can be seen from the BBC News website at Shipwreck The Gloucester hailed most important since Mary Rose, from The Independent at Royal warship’s wreckage found off coast of Norfolk after sinking in 1682 and from The Daily Mail at Wreck of HMS Gloucester is finally found off the Norfolk coast.

The Daily Telegraph also has an account of the discovery at Greatest shipwreck since Mary Rose discovered off coast of Norfolk

There is in addition a video account of the ship and its wreck from A Little Bit of History at The Sinking of HMS Gloucester

This gives a much more balanced account of the Duke’s escape with his core companions - as well as his dogs and priest - which appears much more fair than the claims made in the articles about James delaying his flight from the stricken vessel and thereby causing the consequent loss of life. In the video it is very much the Captain of the ship who is presented in charge both in deferring to the pilot and who was anxious to secure the safety of his important passengers by getting them away from the sinking ship first.

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