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Westminster Abbey and Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Abbey will re-open for sightseeing visitors from Friday 21st May.

In the meantime, we remain open for worship and you are welcome to join us at our daily services. We are also open for individual prayer from 10:00am - 3:00pm, Monday to Saturday.

Sir Francis Chichester

A memorial to Sir Francis Chichester, Captain James Cook and Sir Francis Drake was unveiled in the south cloister of Westminster Abbey on 4th October 1979 (known as the Navigators' memorial). All three had circumnavigated the globe by sea in different eras.

The mosaic of coloured marbles within the oval memorial shows a map of the world on which are three ships. Three different coloured lines trace the routes taken by the navigators. In the Portland stone border, carved by Arthur Ayres, are sculptured doves, dolphins and an oak and laurel branch. The general design was by Peter Foster, the Abbey Surveyor, and Eric Fraser designed the marble globe with the ships. The Latin inscription around the border can be translated:

Circumnavigators of the world. Sir Francis Drake, Captain James Cook, Sir Francis Chichester

Francis was a son of Charles Chichester, vicar of Shirwell in Devon and his wife Emily (Page) and was born on 17th September 1901. Educated at Marlborough College he emigrated to New Zealand and eventually started an aviation business. In 1929 he flew solo from Europe to Australia. During the war he was a navigation officer. He married Muriel Blakiston. Their son George died in 1967. His second wife was Sheila Craven and they had a son Giles. He won the single-handed transatlantic race and sailed round the world in Gypsy Moth IV in 1966-1967 at the age of 65. In 1967 he was knighted by the Queen with Sir Francis Drake's sword and he died on 26th August 1972.

Further reading

"The lonely sea and the sky" autobiography, 1964

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

Born

17th September 1901

Died

26th August 1972

Memorial

4th October 1972

Occupation

Sailor

Location

Cloisters; South Cloister

Memorial Type

Tablet

Sir Francis Chichester
Circumnavigators of the world memorial

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2021 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

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