ON BY MICK MEGEARY

CHARLES PHILPOTS GREEN RN

ON THE NORTH WALL OF ST MARY'S CHANCEL ABOVE THE SACRISTY DOOR THERE IS A MEMORIAL SURMOUNTED BY AN ANCHOR, THIS RECORDS THE PASSING OF CHARLES PHILLPOTS GREEN, A MIDSHIPMAN ABOARD HMS ASIA 84 WHO "DIED OF A FEVER OFF RIO DE JANEIRO ON THE 27TH OF MARCH 1851 AGED 17 YEARS'. IT'S A POIGNANT MEMORIAL TO A MUCH LOVED SON WHO DIED IN THE SERVICE OF HIS COUNTRY LONG AGO AND FAR AWAY. ABOVE THIS MEMORIAL IS ONE TO CHARLES'S FATHER, THE REV. G.R. GREEN WHO DIED IN 1860 AGED 66. THE REV. GREEN WAS RECTOR OF EVERDON FOR 25 YEARS; HE BEGAN HIS MINISTRY HERE IN 1834 THE YEAR CHARLES WAS BORN; THUS IT SEEMS LIKELY THAT CHARLES WAS BORN IN THE RECTORY. THE REV. GREEN WAS A FELLOW OF ETON COLLEGE AND ETON APPOINTED VICARS AND RECTORS TO THE LIVING OF EVERDON, AS THEY HAD DONE SINCE 1440 WHEN HENRY THE SIXTH EXPROPRIATED THE MANOR FROM THE MONKS OF BERNAY IN NORTHERN FRANCE AND GIFTED THE PROPERTY TO HIS THEN NEW FOUNDATION OF ETON COLLEGE. CHARLES GREEN WAS BORN WHEN HIS MOTHER AND FATHER WERE 40 YEARS OLD, SO IT IS PROBABLE THAT HE HAD OLDER SIBLINGS, THIS MAY HAVE INFLUENCED HIS DECISION TO ENTER THE NAVY AS HE WAS NOT LIKELY TO INHERIT HIS FATHER'S ESTATE. THE ROYAL NAVY AT THIS TIME WAS VERY MUCH THE SENIOR SERVICE AND THE OFFICER CLASS WAS RECRUITED FROM INTELLIGENT WELL PLACED YOUNG MEN. NAVIGATION THEN WAS A MANUAL PROCESS WHICH REQUIRED AN ADEPT MATHEMATICAL MIND AND IT WAS NAVIGATION THAT THE NAVY WAS KEEN FOR ITS OFFICER CLASS TO BE VERY COMPETENT AT FOR OBVIOUS REASONS. CHARLES MAY HAVE BEEN A SCHOLAR AT ETON LIKE HIS FATHER AND PERHAPS HAD NOT LONG BEEN IN THE NAVY WHEN HE DIED.

HMS ASIA WAS AN 84 GUN SHIP AND IN 1851 SHE WAS TECHNICALLY OBSOLETE. SHE WAS BUILT IN BOMBAY IN 1824 IN A SHIPYARD RUN BY A FAMOUS FAMILY OF INDIAN SHIPBUILDERS CALLED WADIA WHO HAD ESTABLISHED THEIR YARD IN 1735. THE EAST INDIA COMPANY HAD NEED OF FINE SHIPS AND THEIR PATRONAGE OF THE YARD ENABLED THE WADIA FAMILY BUILD UP A N EXCELLENT REPUTATION FOR SHIPBUILDING. THESE SHIPS WERE PARTICULARLY PRIZED BY THE ROYAL NAVY BECAUSE THEY WERE BUILT OUT OF MALABAR TEAK WHICH GAVE SHIPS A LONGER LIFE THAN THOSE BUILT FROM OAK AND ELM. IN APPEARANCE HMS ASIA WAS A SLIGHTLY SMALLER VERSION OF NELSONS FLAGSHIP VICTORY, NOW MOORED AT PORTSMOUTH. WHEN CHARLES GREEN JOINED HMS ASIA SHE WAS NEARING THE END OF HER CAREER AS A SHIP OF THE LINE. IN 1850 SHE WAS CRUISING OFF THE CHILEAN COAST SO CHARLES WOULD HAVE KNOWN THE TERRORS OF ROUNDING CAPE HORN, THE WORLD'S MOST NOTORIOUS GRAVEYARD FOR SHIPS. IN 1851 HMS ASIA WAS OFF THE COAST OF BRAZIL ON WHAT WAS KNOWN AS THE SOUTH AMERICA STATION, IT MUST BE REMEMBERED THAT BEFORE THE DAYS OF TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION SHIPS OF THE ROYAL NAVY WERE VERY MUCH THE EYES AND EARS OF HER MAJESTY'S GOVERNMENT, INFORMING IT OF WORLD EVENTS IN A TIME WHEN THE BRITISH EMPIRE WAS SET FOR A RAPID EXPANSION.

HMS ASIA COULD HAVE BEEN ON AN ANTI-SLAVERY PATROL SINCE BRAZIL AT THAT TIME WAS STILL IMPORTING SLAVES FROM AFRICA AND ALSO RE-EXPORTING THEM TO THE USA. THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS IN 1850 WAS COMPLAINING ABOUT TEN US VESSELS BEING STOPPED AND SEARCHED BY BRITISH WARSHIPS OFF BRAZIL, WHEN IN FACT NINE OF THE US SHIPS WERE SLAVERS.

WE SHALL NEVER KNOW WHAT DISEASE ENDED THE LIFE OF POOR CHARLES BUT THE LOWER DECKS OF A TWENTY SEVEN YEAR OLD WOODEN SAILING SHIP IN THE TROPICS WAS NO PLACE TO LAY ILL. WE CAN THINK OF HIM IN HIS LAST HOURS PERHAPS REMEMBERING THE VILLAGE OF HIS BIRTH A PLACE TODAY HE WOULD STILL LARGELY RECOGNISE AND OF HIS END, SOWN INTO A WEIGHTED CANVASS SHROUD WITHIN A SHORT TIME OF HIS DEATH AND COMMITTED TO THE DEEP IN THE PRESENCE OF HIS SHIPMATES.

HMS ASIA 84 GUN SAILING SHIP 2ND. RATE

BUILT BOMBAY 1824 197 X 52FT
FIRST MAJOR SEA BATTLE 1827 AT THE BAY OF NAVARIN IN THE MEDITERRANEAN AGAINST TURCO/EGYPTIAN SHIPS
OPERATIONS OFF SYRIA IN 1840 AGAINST THE OTTOMANS
TAKEN OUT OF COMMISSION AT PORTSMOUTH 1852
SUPPORTING TROOP LANDINGS IN THE CRIMEA 1854
USED AS A GUARD SHIP OF THE STEAM VESSELS AT PORTSMOUTH 1859
SOLD AND BROKEN UP AT MERVILLE DUNKIRK 1908

HMS TRINCOMALEE A FRIGATE BUILT BY THE WADIA SHIP BUILDERS OF BOMBAY IN 1817 HAS BEEN RESTORED TO HER FORMER GLORY AND CAN BE VISITED IN HARTLEPOOL.

(Originally published in the Everdon Newsletter - November, 2003)

 

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