- Darling, Sylvia M.
- Biographies and personal histories, History - pre-Federation
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- June 1990 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Seventy more years were to pass, during which the gravestone was renewed, and in 1967 the then Vicar of the Parish, Gordon Spencer, proposed to the High Commissioner for Australia that a more fitting arrangement should be made. (At that time Phillip’s plain tombstone was situated immediately inside the entrance to the church under the feet of everyone coming and going.) The Fellowship of First Fleeters (whose members traced back to the first expedition in 1788) were the first to respond with an appeal in Australia which resulted in a fund for the provision of a permanent Memorial.
Then came several years persistent pleading by the Vicar of St. Nicholas for the acceptance of a suggestion that an Australian Chapel be built in the south aisle of the church where the Memorial was situated. This resulted in sufficient interest and support to justify the commissioning of plans. Bath architect John Vivian prepared the plans and three Australian firms made donations of five thousand pounds each – News International Ltd., Consolidated Goldfields Ltd. and Rio Tinto-Zinc Ltd.; as well as gifts from the Federal and State Governments, Australian organisations and people.
So it was that the Chapel was built in 1974. It was dedicated by the Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells assisted by the Archdeacon of Bath. A carved Memorial Screen bears the words:
ARTHUR PHILLIP 1738-1814 Founder of Australia and First Governor of New South Wales It is also very interesting to note details of the construction and furnishing of the Chapel which are set out in a booklet “Concerning the Parish Church of Saint Nicholas, Bathampton” by the Vicar, Gordon G.C. Spencer (1981). I have taken the liberty to quote freely from this as authentic reference and to enthuse those members of our Naval Historical Society who may be visiting Bath to include a visit to the Church of St. Nicholas at Bathampton.
The unflagging efforts and zeal of the Vicars of St. Nicholas over some 77 years contributed so largely to the building of this fine Chapel to commemorate the gallant founder of our country.
The construction of the Chapel required that all the seating and flooring of the south aisle be removed and the Font (previously adjacent to a pillar) be placed centrally at the west end. Australian Wombeyan Marble, specially cut and presented by the Hammersley Group of Companies, and transported free of charge from Australia by the P & O Line, replaced the floor of the south aisle. The Memorial Screen was made of Australian Black Bean wood by Herbert Read of Exeter, and erected facing the entrance to the church, as well as all the joinery work in the Chapel. An Altar and Sanctuary were placed at the east end of the aisle; Tasmania gave the kneelers, and two windows above the sanctuary were reglazed and carry the coats-of-arms of the Federal Government and the six Australian States. They were made by James Clark Eaton Ltd. of Bristol and bear the following inscriptions:
The Federal Government Australia New South Wales Newly Risen How Brightly You Shine Victoria Peace And Prosperity Queensland Bold But Faithful South Australia Faith And Courage Western Australia Distinguished By Its Swans Tasmania Productiveness And Faithfulness The window at the west end of the aisle was reglazed with clear glass to provide full sunlight on the Font.
The Chapel chairs were hand-made to the Coventry Cathedral design and presented by our State Capital Cities, many organisations and interested people, whose names are engraved on small plaques on the back of each chair. The altar cross and candlesticks were designed by Stuart Devlin, and presented by the Federal Government.