Donington hero Matthew Flinders to rest where his dreams were born
Two centuries after his death, Captain Matthew Flinders will embark on his final journey. Famed around the world for his courage, determination and exploration, he will finally be laid to rest in the Church of St Mary and the Holy Rood Donnington, where he was baptised, in the place he was raised.
As soon as news reached me that the remains of Captain Flinders had been discovered by HS2 archaeologists during excavations in London, I knew that battling to bring him home was the right thing to do. So, alongside the impressive ‘Matthew Flinders Bring Him Home Group’, I was proud to champion in Parliament the campaign on behalf of the family of one of Lincolnshire’s greatest sons, securing a promise from the Leader of the House of Commons that he would: ‘Do whatever I can to assist him in his quest to make sure that the remains of Matthew Flinders find their way home where they should be, in Donnington in his constituency’.
The significance of Captain Flinders’s achievements should not be underestimated. Credited with giving Australia its name, he - alongside Aborigine leader, King Bungaree - was to navigate that country’s coast in its entirety. His courageous quest for discovery marked a seminal moment in the history and heritage of one of Britain’s greatest allies and Commonwealth friends.
Indeed, Flinders is widely celebrated ‘down under’, with over 100 landmarks including towns, statues, stations, islands and a university bearing his name. South Australian MP Frank Pangallo had even suggested that it would be an honour for the Captain’s remains to be reinterred in their state, recognising that it was he who truly put the county ‘on the map’.
However, whilst it is fitting that so many of our friends on the other side of the world regard Captain Flinders with such admiration, there is no place like home and he belongs here. The Flinders family have deep roots in Donnington, with his father and ancestors practicing as village surgeons and apothecaries.
Captain Flinders clearly never forgot his enduring attachment to the Church of St Mary and the Holy Rood, leaving instructions for the erection of four marble memorials in the church to commemorate his forefathers. The beautiful stain glass window depicting his life will now stand only meters from his final resting place.
The Rev Charles Robertson’s touching words show the importance of this ongoing relationship between church and parishioner:“It is with great honour and joy that we received the good news that the mortal remains of Captain Matthew Flinders will come to Donington. It is a privilege to welcome home this great explorer to rest in peace in his home church”.
When all our Earthly achievements are said and done, many hope to rest alongside those they love in places where they were formed, inspired and to which they belong. Following a life of extraordinary adventure, our local hero from Donnington will at last rest where his dreams were born.