Sailors pay tribute to great admiral
Tuesday, 16th October 2007
Sailors marked the 300th anniversary of the death of the Royal Navy hero Sir Cloudesley Shovell with a wreathlaying ceremony conducted by Canon Nicholas Sagovsky at Admiral Shovell’s grave in the Abbey’s south choir aisle this week.
Cloudesley Shovell was born in Norfolk in 1650 and went to sea as a cabin boy. His reputation grew quickly and he rose through the ranks to become a rear-admiral in 1690. By 1704 he was commander-in-chief of the entire British fleet but three years later after taking part in the unsuccessful attempt to capture Toulon, Shovell’s ship HMS Association and its sister ships Eagle, Romney and Firebrand, struck rocks near the Scilly Isles and sank within four minutes. Eight hundred men, including Shovell, were drowned.
Because the principal cause of the shipwreck was inaccurate navigation, the Admiralty was prompted to ask Parliament to approve the Longitude Act which offered a prize to anyone who could find an accurate method of determining longitude.
The prize was later claimed by the Lincolnshire clockmaker John Harrison and though the Admiralty prevaricated his claim was recognised in 1773. A memorial to Harrison was unveiled in the Nave last year.