TRAFALGAR HEROES' TOMBS RESCUED IN HAMPSHIRE
The 1805 Club is undertaking work on the Hampshire tombs of two of the captains who served alongside Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar.
The Club, which is the only organisation that conserves monuments and memorials to Nelson and others serving in the navy during the Georgian era, is rescuing the tombs of Sir Charles Bullen and Richard Grindall, who are buried ten miles apart in Southampton and Wickham.
Sir Charles, commander of the Britannia, is buried alongside his wife Lady Bullen in St Mary's Church, South Stoneham, Southampton, while Grindall who captained the Prince is laid to rest in the family grave in the churchyard of Wickham's St Nicholas Church.
Conservation of these graves forms part of the next stage of the Club's Trafalgar Captains' Memorial Project, a two year research project which was its major contribution to the bicentenary of the Battle of Trafalgar last year.
The aim of the project was to locate and record the graves and memorials of the 38 brave men, all forgotten heroes, who commanded the British fleet during the decisive battle. The project also identified seven tombs and graves, which were most "at risk" because of their poor condition. So far work on three of these has been completed.
All the project's findings were included in a book "The Trafalgar Captains, Their Lives and Memorials" written by Colin White and the 1805 Club, which was published in August last year.
A total of £664 is being spent on the conservation work of the headstones of Sir Charles and Lady Bullen. Both will be lightly cleaned to make the inscriptions clearer on both.
Sir Charles, who was born in Newcastle, is remembered as an officer of great personal courage having been caught up in the Nore Mutiny in 1797. He took part in the Battle of Camperdown that same year, when he took command of the ship Delft that started sinking. Through his efforts, many British and Dutch seamen were saved.
The Battle of Trafalgar was the first time he had served with Nelson. Britannia was part of Nelson's line but was such a slow sailer, that she arrived some time after the battle began and her main contribution was engaging the Spanish ship, Santissima Trinidad, the then largest warship in the world.
After the battle, he received the Naval Gold Medal and a sword from the Lloyd's Patriotic Fund, rising through the ranks and commanding frigates in the Mediterranean and off the Spanish coast between 1807-11.
He then became commissioner of Chatham Dockyard, superintendent of Pembroke Dockyard then captain of the Royal Yacht, Royal Sovereign.
Having risen to the rank of Admiral, Bullen was the last of the Trafalgar captains to die on July 2 1853 at Shirley in Southampton.
Work to be undertaken at Grindall's grave is more extensive because the tomb, his family grave, comprises two upright headstones and footstones all mounted on a large stone plinth. A total of £2,638 will also be used to clean and conserve the grave where again the inscriptions have become illegible.
Grindall is one of the lesser-known captains who served at the battle. Born in 1750, he served mainly in battleships including Sir Samuel Hood's flagship Barfleur in the West Indies.
He took command of Prince in 1803 with duties including joining the Channel Fleet off Brest until he was detached to the blockade at Cadiz. At Trafalgar, Prince was described as "sailing like a Haystack" because she moved so slowly.
However the ship played a vital part in rescuing crew from the French battleship Achille which caught fire and blew up; also those on board the Santissima Trinidad.
Grindall also received the naval gold medal and sword from Lloyds and was promoted to rear admiral. But he never served again at sea and died on May 23 after becoming a vice-admiral and KCB.
Peter Warwick, Chairman of the 1805 Club, believes: "It is important for us to highlight the deeds of our Georgian sailing ancestors and these memorials are a touching reminder of their bravery, adventures and achievements which helped to shape our world. Their graves are the very stuff of history -passports to the past and the means of exploring it.
"Sir Charles Bullen was one of the many brave naval officers who played an important part at Trafalgar with Britannia forming part of Nelson's line in the battle. He will also be remembered for being the longest-surviving of all the Trafalgar captains."
Peter continued: "Grindall epitomises the remarkable humanity shown at Trafalgar. He and his crew were responsible were rescuing hundreds of French and Spanish sailors whose ships had not only been badly damaged during the battle but also during the fierce storm that followed."
He added: "We are encouraged by the way the Club's Trafalgar Captains' Memorial Project has caught the imagination of so many people. We hope they will come to regard captains like Bullen and Grindall as their own local heroes."