Arthur Phillip, unsung local hero The Lyndhurst – Australia connection
A celebration of the life of Arthur Phillip who is widely acknowledged as the founder of modern Australia.
New Forest Centre Gallery
New Forest Centre, Lyndhurst SO43 7NY
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Celebrating Arthur Phillip in Lyndhurst
Bev Major enthralled a packed Pine Hall at Lyndhurst Community Centre with his tales of Captain, later Admiral, Arthur Phillip. 2014 is the bicentenary of Phillip’s death.
Lyndhurst Parish Council had advertised the event as ‘A voyage of Adventure, Challenge and Intrigue’ – exactly what Bev provided in his tales.
You may know Phillip as man who once lived and farmed on land around Lyndhurst Park Hotel. He led the First Fleet of convicts and marines from the Solent to Australia and became the first governor of New South Wales, narrowly beating the French there. Australia could have been French!
That was only part of the story. Philip, born near St Paul’s in 1738, was apprenticed as a seaman and sailed round the world on whaling ships and battle ships. He could speak five languages.
He later worked for the Portuguese as a mercenary, transporting criminals from Lisbon to Brazil.
His name disappeared from the records in 1781 when he was probably in South America preparing for a secret expedition against the Spanish and then spying in France for the British Government.
Bev thinks Phillip’s strange refusal to visit the French ships which arrived at Sydney a few days after his own arrival, was due to a fear that they would recognise him from his time spying in France and seek their revenge.
Phillip is credited for taking South African vines to Australia and starting their wine industry. Bev explained this was not just for his own pleasure but a knowledge that on long sea voyages water quickly became undrinkable; a bottle of wine in the barrel kept the water palatable.
Phillip recognised that there was a need to grow their own for the return voyage to England.
Philip led the 11 small ships of the First Fleet half way round the world, leaving the Solent on 13 May 1787 and arriving in Botany Bay on 18th January 1788.
Finding Botany Bay unsuitable, Phillip sailed north and found ‘the finest harbour in the world’, that he named Sydney.
The new colonists faced incredible hardships, with poor soil, unskilled workers and near famine. The fleet’s arrival on January 26 is celebrated every year as Australia Day, a public holiday.
The church of St John, Boldre, also celebrates ‘Aussie Sunday’, the Sunday closest to 3rd February 1788, when Richard Johnson, a young curate from Boldre, held the first Christian service on Australian soil.
This year the Australian flag was raised.
The Rev. Richard Johnson was also responsible for setting up schools.
He visited Boldre school, set up by his vicar, the Rev. William Gilpin. Bev will be giving a talk at Boldre Memorial Hall focusing on Richard Johnson on Wednesday 26th March at 7pm.
The Lyndhurst evening continued with a supper of local Lyburn Cheese washed down with Australian wine.
There is plenty more to discover. There are events arranged this summer in Boldre, Lyndhurst and Lymington, where Phillip lived on his return to England.
Information will be available from the websites of New Forest Centre, Lyndhurst Parish Council and Lyndhurst Community Centre and in The Lymington Times.
Lyndhurst Parish Council celebrates £8,800 Lottery grant which also contains a gallery of pictures from the opening evening.