Antarctic Memorial

Dedication in St Paul's Cathedral, City of London

The memorial was dedicated in the crypt of St Paul's Cathedral, London, as part of Evensong on Tuesday, 10 May 2011 by the Revd Mark Oakley Canon Treasurer of St Paul's Cathedral. The names of those who died were read out by the Rt Revd Stephen Venner, Bishop to HM Armed Forces and the Falkland Islands.  Roderick Rhys Jones, Chairman of the Trust gave the eulogy.

History of the memorial

We approached St Paul's Cathedral in 2007 in order to explore the possibility of placing a plaque in the crypt to commemorate "those who did not return". The Cathedral Chapter considered our proposal and "gave it their provisional support."  With the support of the government of the British Antarctic Territory we discussed the design and positioning of the tablet with Surveyor to the Fabric and others at the Cathedral over a period of two years. All saw it important that our memorial would meet the exacting aesthetic standards of the Cathedral and stand the test of time in this centre of national religious life. 

In February 2010 we agreed with the Chapter and the Fabric Committee on the design - see the image on the left. Following our formal submission with details of the materials and treatment in April 2010 we received official permission to commission and instal the memorial.

Designed by the artist Graeme Wilson and the stonemason Fergus Wessel, the circular plaque, 1100mm diameter, is made of riven Welsh slate with a map of Antarctica inset in white Carrara marble.  The position of South America and Southern Africa is picked out of the surface of the riven slate and the latitude and longitude lines are incised.  A huddle of Emperor penguins has been carved at the base of the disk. The inscription "For those who lost their lives in Antarctica in pursuit of science to benefit us all" has been cut into the smoothed periphery of the disk.  Around the rim, or edge, the title “British Antarctic Territory” and its motto “Research and discovery” has been cut and finished in palladium.  The same metal finish which is picked out on the marble of the continent to show the area of the British Antarctic Territory.

Working with the Cathedral authorities we identified a site in the crypt that is adjacent to the Nelson Chamber. It is on a side aisle which leads to the education room. Each London school child visits St Paul's at least once in their school career so the Trust will be using this opportunity to provide educational material about Antarctic science. The Antarctic memorial is next to the memorial to Major Frederick George Jackson who, whilst mapping Franz Josef Land, happened upon and rescued Nansen. Enscribed on the plaque is the French "Sans Peur and Sans Reproche". On the other side of the main aisle is the memorial to those lost in the War in the South Atlantic.

There is a plaque to Captain Robert Falcon Scott and his companions in the South Transept in the main part of the Cathedral, beside the entrance to the crypt, with the stirring words "Inflexible of Purpose. Steadfast in Courage, Resolute in Endurance in the face of Unparalleled Misfortune. Their Bodies are left in the Antarctic Ice but the memory of their Deeds is an Everlasting Monument."

We are grateful for the support and generosity given by the families, friends and companions of those that died as well as a number of benefactors who have contributed to our funds. We are particularly grateful to the government of the British Antarctic Territory and the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust who have supported the application and contributed generously.

Those who would like to make a donation may do so by visiting our page on the Charity Choice website.

  • © British Antarctic Monument Trust 2018
  • Registered charity number 01123064
  • 27 Sullivan Road London SE11 4UH UK