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Admiral Sir Harry and the Burrard Neale 250 Project

Lymington's Forgotten Hero - Admiral Sir Harry Burrard Neale

The Burrard neale 250 project

Admiral Sir Harry Burrard Neale of Lymington Hampshire

Interviewed for a recent South Today feature programme, not many Lymington folk did! He’s rather a forgotten Lymington hero, along with his monument on Walhampton Hill...

About Admiral Sir Harry Burrard Neale

Admiral Sir Harry Burrard Neale is arguably the most illustrious and celebrated resident in Lymington’s history. (Even if right now he’s not as famous as Sir Ben Ainslie!) Following a glittering naval career - after putting down the Nore Mutiny on the Thames and possibly averting a British Revolution, he became Lord of the Admiralty and Commander of the Mediterranean Fleet - he returned to Lymington, served as Mayor and MP and helped to achieve much progress for the town. He paid for the lamp standards for the first gas street lighting of the town and the Gas Lamp Monument next to the Royal Lymington Yacht Club stands today, testament to his contribution.

Walhampton Monument view

September 2015 saw the 250th anniversary of the birth, in 1765, of Admiral Sir Harry Burrard Neale Bt. GCB GCMG, 2nd Baronet of Walhampton, whose lifetime achievements – both naval and civic – were so great that, on his death in 1840, it was agreed to erect a magnificent obelisk in his memory, by public subscription – and 2,000 people attended the laying of its foundation stone!

Harry Burrard, son of the Governor of Yarmouth Castle, was born in the Castle and educated at Christchurch Grammar School. He joined the Royal Navy in 1778 and went on to have a glittering naval career, rising to be a Lord of the Admiralty and subsequently Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet. He achieved national prominence in 1797, for his role in quelling the mutiny at the Nore – an anchorage in the Thames Estuary. Britain was at war with revolutionary France at the time and, when mutineers blockaded the Thames, it was seen as a possible prelude to a British revolution – and had to be put down with great urgency. Sir Harry earned the gratitude of both George III and the City of London and was subsequently presented with the ‘Nore Drum’ in recognition of his part in the action. This drum, one of Lymington’s most important treasures – is currently on display at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

Sir Harry was also Mayor of Lymington and an MP for the town – for no fewer than 25 years over a period of 45 years. Walhampton House (now occupied by Walhampton School) was his family home.

Another unique monument – the ‘Gas Lamp Monument’, adjacent to the Royal Lymington Yacht Club – commemorates the fact that Sir Harry paid for the lamp standards for the first gas street lighting of the town, in 1832.

Sir Harry died in February 1840 and is buried in Lymington’s St. Thomas’ Church, where a third monument can be found. Sir Harry added the ‘Neale’ to his surname on his marriage, in 1795, to Grace Neale. They had no children and the Baronetcy passed to his brother.

The Walhampton Monument

Walhampton monument for Admiral Sir Harry Burrard NealeThe Walhampton Monument – for which the foundation stone was laid in September 1840 and which was completed in 1842 – is a particularly fine 76ft obelisk, made from granite cut from the same Dartmoor quarry and at the same time as that of Nelson’s Column. Plaques on its four sides record different aspects of Sir Harry’s life with, for example, the plaque facing the town highlighting Gas Lamp Monument his civic achievements and that facing the Solent recording how, in addition to quelling the Nore Mutiny, his naval record included the capture and /or destruction of 20 enemy vessels.

The Monument erected in Sir Harry’s honour on Walhampton Hill after his death in 1840, was once the focal point of Lymington people’s perambulations, prominently visible across the river from the High Street, standing in beautiful parkland on an exposed 'Mount Pleasant' with views towards Lymington and out to the Solent Sea.

 

Over subsequent decades the trees and undergrowth grew – as they do! – the route up to and around the Monument became practically impassable, and Sir Harry’s memory gradually faded. But in 2015 which marks the 250th anniversary of his birth, the Lymington Society supported by Lymington and Pennington Town Council and the Hampshire Gardens Trust is determined to restore the Monument and its surroundings to as near to its former glory as possible.

  

The ‘Burrard Neale 250’ project

Whilst ‘Burrard Neale 250’ is planned to be one holistic project, with the objective of raising awareness of Sir Harry, his life and times, and renewed pride in his achievements, for workload and financial reasons, it will be conducted in phases:

• Raising awareness of the project – especially through volunteers and communication with New Forest and Solent organisations.

• Restoring the Walhampton site and monument to their former glory. This will include introducing interpretation and seating – making it once again an attractive, interesting and popular place to visit. [For financial reasons, restoration of the monument may follow that of its surrounding site]

• Maintaining the attraction of the Walhampton site, via the on-going attention of ‘Friends of Sir Harry’ volunteers.

• Celebrating Sir Harry’s 250th Anniversary – by linking the Admiral with a series of community events, throughout 2015, of attraction to New Forest residents and visitors alike.

The project so far

New hedges have been planted to screen the new fences along much of the site to start to give the site a more woodland setting, after the clearance of so much invasive laurel which had taken over most of the top area near the monument itself.

This follows successful clearance of overgrown laurel by the Lymington Society and the HCV Volunteers. A team of Lymington Society and HCV volunteers spend two days cutting back overgrown brambles, laurel and other invasive species leaving the path clear for contactors to carry out much needed path upgrading to bring the path which makes up part of the Solent Way up to Hampshire County Council standards.

A pond has also been created on the Undershore Road end of the site, which hopefully will become a haven for wildlife including the usual pond species of dragon flies and other creatures

Contractors have now completed the reinstatement of the Solent way making possible progress on foot and work to continue the restoration

More information: www.burrard-neale250.org.uk

 

 

 

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