On This Day in Trinity House History – 2 September

1666

The Great Fire of London starts

The Great Fire of London starts at a bakery on Pudding Lane shortly after midnight, and spreads rapidly west across the City of London.

The Trinity House Elder Brethren had time to remove themeslves and a number of records and artefacts from the house which was at that time at Water Lane (not far from our current location at Tower Hill) to Deptford before the house was consumed. The fire burned until 5 September.

Younger Brethren Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn kept famous diaries of the event.

The LONDONERS Lamentation, a broadside ballad published in 1666 giving an account of the fire, and of the limits of its destruction. Via Wikipedia.

The LONDONERS Lamentation, a broadside ballad published in 1666 giving an account of the fire, and of the limits of its destruction. Via Wikipedia.

On This Day in Trinity House History – 4 August

1919

THV Ariel precedes the Royal barge at the Thames Water Pageant

In order to celebrate the peace after the First World War, a Pageant of All the Sea Services was organised, in which a procession of boats, carrying representatives of all ‘those who go down to the sea in ships’, proceeded from Tower Bridge to Chelsea.

His Majesty King George V led the procession in the Royal barge, manned by Watermen, holders of Doggett’s Coat and Badge. THV Ariel was brought from Yarmouth and fitted with a lowering mast to enable her to clear the bridges. The Royal barge was preceded by the Ariel, flying the flag of the Duke of Connaught (Master), who was on board, attended by Sir Acton Blake (Deputy Master), Rear-Admiral Mansell and Captain Golding.

Royal procession at Tower Bridge

Royal procession at Tower Bridge

Enter the Trinity House 500th anniversary quiz for great prizes

Enter the Trinity House 500th anniversary quiz for great prizes

As part of its 500th anniversary celebrations, the Corporation of Trinity House is offering the chance to win a copy of the new Trinity House photography book Light Through A Lens and a Trinity House-themed print by renowned illustrator Peter Kent.

We’ll post more about the book on this blog closer to its publication on 11 September 2014. In the meantime, you can read about it on the Bloomsbury website.

To find out more, please visit the Trinity House website. Good luck!

On This Day in Trinity House History – 20 May – The Big One!

1514

The Corporation of Trinity House of Deptford Strond is incorporated by Henry VIII

Henry VIII grants a Royal Charter to The Master, Wardens and Assistants of the Guild or Fraternity of the most glorious and undividible Trinity and St. Clement in the Parish Church of Deptford Strond*.

The Royal Charter came as a result of a petition made by a guild of mariners, troubled by the inexperience and poor conduct of unregulated pilots on the Thames. This already well-established benevolent fraternity, in ownership of a great hall and 21 almshouses for the benefit of distressed seamen and their dependants, petitioned the king for license to set up a fraternity enabled to regulate pilotage on the capital’s river:

“The practise of pilotship in rivers, by young men who are unwilling to take the labour and adventure of learning the shipman’s craft on the high seas, is likely to cause scarcity of mariners; ‘and so this your realm which heretofore hath flourished with a navy to all other lands dreadful’ shall be left destitute of cunning masters and mariners; also that Scots, Flemings and Frenchmen have been suffered to learn as loadsmen [pilots] the secrets of the King’s streams, and in time of war have come as far as Gravesende ‘and sette owte English shippes to the great rebuke of the realm.’”

This new corporation was to be governed by a Master, four Wardens and eight Assistants, who were to be elected annually, and were empowered, for the general improvement of the science of navigation, to elect and expel any of their number; by-laws could be created, and transgressors punished by forfeit or expulsion. A seal served as the legal mark, and the Corporation was authorised to hold property to conduct its charitable affairs and meetings, with a chaplain appointed to pray for the kings, queens and brethren living and deceased.

To this day, the Corporation is headed by the Master, whose extensive powers and jurisdiction are deferred to the Deputy Master. Sir Thomas Spert, Master of the Mary Rose and the Henri Grâce à Dieu, was “Sometyme Comptroller of the Navy to K. Henry VIII and both the first Founder and Master of the Worthie Society or Corporation called the Trinity House”, as inscribed on his monument.

For more of the history of Trinity House, the best place to start would be with Richard Woodman’s recently published history, Light Upon The Waters, available from our website, and more information can be found on this blog and on our main website.

*This name would be slightly altered in the charter of 1604 to The Master Wardens and Assistants of the Guild Fraternity or Brotherhood of the most glorious and undivided Trinity and of St. Clement in the Parish of Deptford Strond

Trinity House petitions Henry VIII 1513

Trinity House petitions Henry VIII 1513 copyright Trinity House

 


1663

Trinity House is concerned about the sale of dirty fruit and alocohol on the Thames

Trinity House Court Minute:

“The Trinity House apply to the Company of Watermen to suppress those who sell fruit and strong waters from dirty boats not licensed to row on the River.”

 


1914

A warm testimonial to 400 years of Trinity House 

On the occasion of Trinity House’s 400th Anniversary, Lloyds List wrote the following:

“As a matter of history the record of Trinity House is fascinating. In its time it has been many sided. It has served the nation in this capacity and that, and all the while it has somehow managed to make itself so indispensable that, in an age of scant reverence for ancient institutions, it stands not only unassailed, but, we might also add, unassailable.” 

Royal Museums Greenwich Item of the Month: John Smeaton’s ‘A Narrative of the building… of the Edystone [sic] lighthouse with stone’

Royal Museums Greenwich Item of the Month: John Smeaton’s ‘A Narrative of the building… of the Edystone [sic] lighthouse with stone’

A Narrative of the building… of the Edystone [sic] lighthouse with stone, PBB4061

“May 2014 marks the 500th anniversary of the incorporation of Trinity House and May’s item of the month describes a pioneering triumph of English lighthouse engineering.

After the timber and stone lighthouse built on the Eddystone rocks by John Rudyerd was destroyed by fire in 1755, the Eddystone proprietors, who held a lease from Trinity House, chose John Smeaton to build a replacement. Warmly recommended by the Royal Society, Smeaton had no direct experience of building lighthouses – nor did anyone else – but was an instrument maker who investigated the power of wind and water and had tested ships’ compasses and logs at sea. Above all, as his biographer says, ‘he was valued for the power and clarity of his intellect’ (A.W. Skempton (1981), John Smeaton FRS, p.11).”

The new National Maritime Museum exhibition Guiding Lights celebrates 500 years of Trinity House. Exhibition Curator Gillian Hutchinson takes a closer look at a rare book, A Narrative of the building and a description of the construction of the Edystone [sic] lighthouse with stone, by John Smeaton, Civil Engineer, F.R.S., 1791.

After reading the post, go see for yourself! Visit the National Maritime Museum’s new temporary exhibition, Guiding lights: 500 years of Trinity House and safety at sea. Admission is free and open until January 2016.

 

Smeaton's Eddystone medal

Smeaton’s Eddystone medal

On This Day in Trinity House History – 23 April

1634

Trinity House appoints foreign consul

Trinity House Court Minute:

“Trinity House appoints Sir Philip Barnady to be Consul at Genoa.”

One of the more obscure duties of the Elder Brethren was the appointment of consuls at foreign ports. Although it is a little-documented duty, there is evidence of Trinity House appointing consuls to such far-flung locations as Leghorn, Genoa, Trapani and Livorno.

 


1743

Church of All Hallows-by-the Tower and view along Great Tower Street, 1955

Church of All Hallows-by-the Tower and view along Great Tower Street, 1955

Trinity House gives aid victims of fire in Tower Street, London

Trinity House Board Minute:

“Most of the Considerable Inhabitants of this parish having contributed largely to the sufferers by the fire in Tower St on Wednesday morning (where four persons perished in the flames) and the Church Wardens applying for this Corporations Charity on the unhappy occasion five guineas ordered to be given to them.”

 

500 Years of Trinity House exhibition opens at the National Maritime Museum

Guiding Lights: 500 years of Trinity House and safety at sea

Trinity House exhibition banner

On 15 April the Master of Trinity House, HRH The Princess Royal, formally opened the new exhibition at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London, titled ‘Guiding Lights: 500 years of Trinity House and safety at sea’. The exhibition is a fantastic showcase highlighting the history and modern relevance of Trinity House as a charity, a general lighthouse authority and a deep sea pilotage authority today, and its many historical functions.

“Guiding Lights showcases centuries of invaluable work by the Corporation of Trinity House to help sailors navigate safely at sea, preventing countless shipwrecks and immense loss of life.

Marking the 500th anniversary of Trinity House, the gallery displays 70 rarely seen objects from Trinity House and the Museum’s own collection, telling stories of the heroic and the extraordinary from throughout the organisation’s history, and of human fortitude in the face of the immense power of the sea.

The history of Britain’s lighthouses is told through intricate models, dramatic film and the personal effects of lighthouse keepers. Lightvessels, buoys and yachts are illustrated through rarely-seen, beautiful watercolour sketches by accomplished marine artist William Lionel Wyllie. Tales of personal bravery include that of lighthouse keeper’s daughter and plucky heroine Grace Darling.”

This wonderful exhibition is open from 16 April 2014 until 4 January 2016, open daily 10.00-17.00, and is suitable for all ages and backgrounds.

Entry is free to all!

More information for visitors can be found at the Royal Museums Greenwich website or by telephoning 020 8312 6565.