The then Duchess of Gloucester, a daughter of George III, was one of 3 members of the ‘Royal Family’ who, in 1840, headed the public subscription that raised £1,400 to pay for the erection of the magnificent obelisk that commemorates the life of Admiral Sir Harry Burrard Neale.
Hence, in September 2015, Their Royal Highnesses The Duke [himself an Architect] and Duchess of Gloucester honoured Lymington with the following unique message:
Hampshire, inevitably, has many monuments to Naval Heroes, and that to Sir Harry Burrard Neale is especially tall, due to the great respect that his contemporaries had for him personally, and to the Royal Navy as an institution that had recently saved us from invasion, and was to be successful in projecting our diplomatic power for the next century.
Fame has a way of fading over time, and the desire to make sense of these monuments requires us to look after them, for ourselves and for future generations.
We hope that the restoration of the monuments will attract more interest in their history and the significance that they represent both at the time and today.
With warmest congratulations to all those who have played a part in this project, we hope that they will be rewarded by its successful completion and by the encouragement that a ‘local hero’ can give to the community in the neighbourhood.”
The letters to Lymington from Canada have equally fascinating explanations, because – at least until our efforts in the last year – it has been the case that the Burrard name has been better known in Vancouver than in Lymington! The principal inlet to the city from the Pacific Ocean is the ‘Burrard Inlet’, which is crossed by the impressive ‘Burrard Bridge’, carrying the mayor ‘Burrard Street’ etc.
It transpires that Sir Harry never got nearer to Vancouver than the east coast of America – but had the site named after him by his friend Captain George Vancouver. We have, however, learnt that the City of Vancouver has, in its possession, a telescope presented to Sir Harry by Nelson in 1805!
Gordon Campbell, High Commissioner for Canada [and himself a former Mayor of Vancouver and Premier of British Columbia] wrote:
Your ongoing work in raising the profile of this British naval hero will no doubt help future generations to appreciate his many contributions both to British maritime history and his civic work on behalf of the people of Lymington. His legacy of public service continues to serve as an example.
As a Vancouver native, I can assure you that the Burrard name lives on and forms part of daily life in a city some 4,900 miles away from Admiral Sir Harry’s birthplace.I wish you continued success in your work.”
Mayor Gregor Robertson of Vancouver has kindly written:
“On behalf of the citizens of Vancouver, and my colleagues on City Council, I want to extend my best wishes to Mayor Michael White of Lymington on the 250th anniversary of the birth of Sir Harry Burrard Neale.
The City of Vancouver is proud to recognise the influence that Sir Harry Burrard Neale had on Captain George Vancouver. Our city continues to honour Sir Harry Burrard Neale through the namesakes of Burrard Inlet, Burrard Street, and Burrard Bridge.
We wish you a happy commemoration and celebration of an incredible man and historic figure in both your city and ours”