Remains of 19th-century explorer, Flinders, to return home

25 October 2019

RODNEY BURTON/GEOGRAPH/COMMONS

A statue of Matthew Flinders stands in Market Place, in Donington, Lincolnshire

A statue of Matthew Flinders stands in Market Place, in Donington, Lincolnshire

THE remains of the 19th-century explorer credited with giving Australia its name are to be reinterred in the parish church of his home village, Donington, in Lincolnshire.

The explorer Captain Matthew Flinders, who was born in Donington, near Spalding, was the first person to circumnavigate what is now Australia in 1803. Although he did not coin the name, his use of it in 1814, for his journal A Voyage to Terra Australis — Latin for “South Land” — established it as the name of the newly discovered continent.

Flinders died in London, in 1814, aged 40, the day after his book was published. He was buried in the churchyard of St James’s, Piccadilly, at Euston. Earlier this year, archaeologists working in advance of construction of a new station for the HS2 project identified his grave from a lead plaque on his coffin.

Now the HS2 developers, who are temporary custodians of the explorer’s remains, have announced that they will be reburied at St Mary and the Holy Rood, in Donington, where he was baptised, and where his father and grandfather, who practised as the village surgeons and apothecaries, also lie. The diocese of Lincoln has given planning consent for the re-interment, and a date for the burial will be set once the PCC decides on a suitable memorial.

Donington villagers have set up an appeal to “bring Flinders home”.

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