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Arctic explorer's memorial unveiled

Tuesday, 30th September 2014

Arctic explorer's memorial unveiled

A memorial to the Orkney-born Arctic explorer Dr John Rae (1813-1893) was dedicated in the Chapel of St John the Evangelist, Westminster Abbey on Tuesday 30th September 2014.

Dr Rae signed up with the Hudson's Bay Company in the 19th century when the fur trade in Canada was at its peak, and charted huge areas of unmapped territory using his surveying skills. He uncovered the fate of an earlier expedition by Sir John Franklin, and some believe that he discovered the final link in the Northwest Passage, the navigable Arctic route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific. His memorial ledger stone has been placed beneath the existing memorial to Sir John Franklin (1786-1847).

The Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, welcomed the congregation, many of whom had travelled from Orkney, to the service of dedication.

The Reverend Fraser Macnaughton, Minister, St Magnus Cathedral, Orkney, read Isaiah 58: 9-14. Ken McGoogan, author of Fatal Passage: The Untold Story of John Rae, read a Reflection.

The Right Honourable Alistair Carmichael MP, Secretary of State for Scotland, asked the Dean to receive the memorial into the safe custody of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster.

A wreath was laid by Mary Davey and flowers were laid by Jane Hamilton.

Prayers were led by the Reverend Christopher Stoltz, Minor Canon and Sacrist of Westminster, and the Reverend Jane Sinclair, Canon Steward.

The biggest challenge we face is actually time – getting all our work done alongside the daily routine of the Abbey as a working church, visitor attraction and home to 1,000 years of history.


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