New Forest Links
Captain (later Admiral) Arthur Phillip RN (1738 – 1814)
Arthur Phillip was the first governor of New South Wales and founder of modern Australia. January 26, Australia Day, marks the date the First Fleet landed in 1788 at what Phillip named Sydney, with 11 ships, about 1,500 crew and passengers including convicts and marines. His orders from King George III were to set up a new agricultural colony for Britain.
Lyndhurst was the home of Captain Arthur Phillip and his first wife Charlotte in about 1763-1770. They lived at Vernalls, now demolished, by Goose Green. A modern house, Vernalls Farm, is built close to the site of Vernalls.
Phillip farmed about 32 acres between Beechen Lane and Southampton Road, gaining valuable experience for his future task of setting up a colony. He lived the life of country gentleman. The old Lyndhurst Park Hotel (previously Glasshayes) formed part of his estate as did Appletree Court, NFDC offices.
A eucalyptus was planted in the grounds at the time of Australia’s Bicentenary in 1988. An acacia was planted by the Governor of New South Wales, Her Excellency Dame Marie Bashir, in 2014 to mark the Bicentenary of Phillip’s death.
Phillip’s farm servant was Henry Edward Dodd who also sailed with the First Fleet. Phillip appointed him as Superintendent of the Government Farm at Rose Hill, New South Wales. Dodd organised cultivation and convict labour laying the foundations for both the colony’s survival and agricultural success.
Vernalls was on land leased from the Coleman family. Two brass plaques commemorating the family were moved from the former St Michael and All Angels and are in the later 1859 Church.
Phillip was appointed, as a substantial citizen as Overseer of the Poor by the Church Vestry. A new Poor House was built during his time at Poor House Field on the edge of Phillip’s land behind Yew Tree Manor on the Beaulieu Road. Nothing now remains. The Phillips had separated by 1770 and the lease was sold.
George Rose, Treasury and Naval secretary, also had houses at Lyndhurst (Cuffnells) and Christchurch. Rose moved to Lyndhurst after Phillip had left. Phillip named Rose Hill (now Parramatta) after Rose. Cuffnells was later the home of Alice Hargreaves, the real Alice.
To discover more
• Lyndhurst Parish Council and New Forest Centre have produced two leaflets, Celebrating Arthur Phillip and Historic Walks Round Lyndhurst available in the Visitor Information Centre.
• Displays are in St Michael and All Angels Church and an audio visual resource is in The Museum.
• An archive is being made at Christopher Tower Reference Library.
• Hampshire Record Office holds the Church and Overseers Records and Convict information.
• Visit Southampton, the Royal Dockyards at Portsmouth and the Royal Marines Museum, Southsea.
Rev’d Richard Johnson (1755 – 1827) was curate at St John the Baptist, Boldre with the inspirational Rev’d William Gilpin. Johnson was selected as chaplain for the new agricultural colony and with his new wife Mary Burton sailed with the First Fleet. Religion, with its strong principles, was considered an essential element in setting the colony’s rules and regulations.
The son of a Yorkshire farmer Johnson was educated at Hull Grammar School where William Wilberforce, the evangelical anti-slavery leader, was once a pupil. Johnson went on to Magdalen College in 1780 and was made a Deacon at Winchester Cathedral in 1783 before an appointment as Boldre chaplain. Wilberforce recommended Johnson for chaplain in the new colony.
Johnson learned from Gilpin the principles of encouraging the poor to live by Christian principles and his almost unknown at that time ideals for educating and equipping the poor at a school he provided himself. Rev’d Samuel Marsden, also with local connections, took over the chaplaincy in 1800 when the Johnsons returned to England. He became curate in Norfolk and Essex and in 1808 Rector of Ss Antholin and John the Baptist in the City of London.
To discover more locally:
• Visit St John the Baptist, Boldre, to see memorials to Johnson and Gilpin.
• Two useful booklets are on sale there:
The Bishop of Botany Bay by Lt Col Peter Chitty and The Reverend William Gilpin, Vicar of Boldre 1777 – 1804, by Graham S. Bowen.
• The original school is now a private house but is clearly recognisable – compare with Johnson’s first School in Sydney.
• The current primary school is still named The William Gilpin School.
• Aussie Sunday takes place the first Sunday following January 26.
• Visit the Christopher Tower Lyndhurst Reference library and the St Barbe Museum, Lymington.
• Hampshire Record Office, Winchester.
• Hampshire County Library.
Captain, promoted to Admiral, Arthur Phillip lived in Lymington with his second wife Isabella Whitehead. Arthur had returned to England in 1792, a sick man, but having established the foundations of the sound administration for Australia.
He resigned as Governor but still, despite a couple of years enjoying the London social life with Isabella, yearned to return to sea. Britain was at war with France. Phillip’s experience was second to none but at 60 he was considered an old man. His friend Evan Nepean at the Home Office suggested a shore based role with the Sea Fencibles (shore based seamen similar to the Home Guard) or The Impress Service (supplying men, by pressgang if necessary) to man the British Navy.
By 1798 the Phillips were leasing a house from Dr Nike at the corner of Ashley Lane and the High Street. The house was rebuilt and is now a shoe shop. A blue plaque commemorating the Arthur Phillip connection was unveiled in Ashley Lane by Dame Marie Bashir in July 2014.
To discover more:
• Visit the St Barbe Museum in New Street, Lymington and Christopher Tower Reference Library in Lyndhurst.
• Phillip’s name appears on the Lymington Rate Records.
• The Town Trails leaflet has three self guided walks around Lymington, and Phillip references. Many Lymington houses are Georgian and would have been recognisable to the Phillips.
• Lymington Town Tours organises guided walks and talks around and about Lymington – see their website www.lymington-town-tours.co.uk and local press.
• Visit Bucklers Hard at Beaulieu to discover more about our naval heritage and Georgian shipbuilding.
• Southampton has a Maritime Museum, good Reference Library and a rich Maritime Heritage.
• Portsmouth has a long naval tradition. The First Fleet loaded supplies from here and set off from Mother Bank in the Solent. Visit the Naval Dockyards Museums, Victory (Nelson and Phillip were contemporaries in the RN), the Royal Marines Museum, Southsea.
• There are plaques and a large knot carving by the Square Tower in Portsmouth, commemorating the First Fleet and our connections with Sydney.
• A very large model of HMS Sirius, Phillip’s flagship in the First Fleet, is in the new shopping centre at Gunwharf Quay, Portsmouth, and a street is named Arthur Phillip Way.
• Dorchester, where the assizes were held, has a display and information on convicts in the Museum. The bridge on the road from the east has a plaque warning that anyone damaging the bridge may be transported.
• On the A31 between Wimborne Minster and Bere Regis is the Botany Bay Inne (not Georgian) with wall paintings on the exterior and information inside. The Red Post a little further on is reputed to be a sign for the illiterate convict gaolers leading the convicts the route to the docks and that a nearby barn was for their overnight rest.
• Hampshire Record Office in Winchester is a good source of information.
• There are also monuments and memorials in London, where Arthur Phillip was born, and in Bath, where he died.
• The Galleries of Justice in Nottingham have a convict ships display
Useful websites include
University of Wollongong: firstfleet.uow.edu.au
Britain Australia Society: britain-australia.org.uk
Norfolk Island Museum: hmssirius.com.au
Sydney Living Museums: sydneylivingmuseums.com.au