Arthur Phillip Memorial
Arthur Phillip - The Hidden London Memorial.
One of the brass side plates shows five men raising the flag at Sydney on Wednesday 23 January 1788, the other shows the official occasion three days later when New South Wales was founded.
Arthur Phillip’s memorial was first unveiled in 1932 in St Mildred’s Church, Bread Street, just a few years before a German bomb fell during a raid in 1941, completely destroying the church. The memorial was re-erected shortly afterwards on a quiet corner of Watling Street, beneath the shadows of St Paul’s and more recently the new shopping centre development at New Change. Perhaps one of our least known naval heroes from British History, yet adored by many Australians’, giving them a Bank Holiday celebration, marking the anniversary of the first fleet’s arrival at Sydney Cove in January 1788.
Arthur Philip (known as “Captain” by Australians, although he became an Admiral and also the first Governor of New South Wales) was born on the 11 October 1738 in Bread Street, close to the notorious Newgate Prison. Having convicts around him seems to be his fate for he was to carry 1,373 of them, 15,000 nautical miles which were one of the greatest voyages ever made. The fact that those on board arrived safely, apart from 23 who died at sea – a remarkably low figure when taking into account the eight months journey by eleven ships at sea.
Even his death has become surrounded in mystery. In 1797 he retired to Bath, where he lived with his wife Isabella at 19 Bennett Street a splendid Georgian property in a sweeping crescent. In 1814 this 76-year-old man who three months earlier had been promoted in his retirement to Admiral of the blue, fell from his first-floor window and died! Some have suggested suicide or even murder; although it is more likely he suffered a stroke after many years of ill health.
Australians visiting England wishing to honour Arthur Phillip this monument would be a proud reminder of our unsung hero, who has not had his rightful praise from his own countrymen, where to this day he remains almost unknown. He never encouraged celebrity status which might have made him extravagantly famous like Nelson and other men of action. Instead, he is worshipped from afar, the founder of Sydney, New South Wales and the other branch of Newgate Prison.
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