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Title Bellot Memorial
Collection Public Monuments and Sculpture Association
Artist Hardwick, Philip
Date Completion 1855
Description Tall obelisk in red granite, composed of four tapering blocks and a shaped top. This stands on a square base comprising three courses of granite blocks, engraved on the north side with the name Bellot in deep tall letters. The commemorative plaque in ?? metal is on the other side. It stands on three wide steps on a concrete base. It is set in a small garden area off the riverside walk with railings round.
According to Hardwick's plan of July 1854, the whole monument from the ground to the pinnacle is 33ft high (1006cm) with the obelisk at 25 ft high (762cm) and the plinth about four (122cm). In the design the obelisk is set on one small step on top of a square plinth, about 122cm high, with the inscription on it. This stands on three shallow square steps.(1)
[In photo in Ludlow book the whole is c.5 times the base height](2)
Additional Information Commemorates Joseph Rene Bellot (1826-53) who lost his life in an attempt to find Sir John Franklin when nothing had been heard from his expedition to the Polar regions to find the North West Passage.
Exploration of this area had been going on since the sixteenth century, including the search for a sea route to Asia across the north of North America, known as the North West Passage. Sir John Franklin (1786-1847) was an explorer who had been in the navy and fought at the Battle of Trafalgar. He made four journeys to the Arctic in all and successfully mapped thousands of miles of Canadian coastline as well as collecting information on geology, weather and plantlife. After his second expedition, of 1819-22, when they had run out of food and been reduced to eating leather, stories of their ordeal fascinated the public and he became a national hero.
His final expedition was to search for the North West Passage. It set out in May 1845, with enough food for three years, and the last record of the ships was when they were seen by a Scottish whaler off Baffin Island in July of that year. Nothing was heard of it again and from 1847 onwards, expeditions set out to find what had happened to him, a total of around 40 from many different countries. Lady Jane Franklin was desperate to know the fate of her husband and spent her fortune financing searches. These and later expeditions gradually pieced together the story. Franklin had died in June 1847 and the ships remained trapped in ice even though it was summer. A party set off south to get help but eventually all the men died. The expedition had at some stage made contact with the Inuit people and they told of seeing some men dying as they were walking along. It is possible the party was poisoned to some extent by the lead used to seal their tinned food which could have weakened them and affected their judgement. Even today after many recent attempts to discover the facts, several intriguing questions remain.
There were many works of literature, art, and memorabilia about the ill-fated expedition, including the haunting folk song 'Lord Franklin'.
Bellot was born in Paris on 18 March 1826, studied at Rochefort and entered the French navy as a lieutenant. He was given the Legion of Honour after an expedition to Madagascar in 1845 and later served in South America. In 1851 he joined Captain Kennedy in the search for Franklin. In 1852 he went on the same mission with Captain Inglefield, both expeditions sponsored by Lady Franklin. During the course of the first expedition he discovered the strait which was named after him, the Bellot Strait. He died on 18 August 1853 falling under the ice in Wellington Channel while carrying important despatches to Sir Edward Belcher. He was popular and admired for his achievements and devotion to duty both in France and Britain.(2)
Id Number Current Accession GR008
Id Number Current Repository UELGR008b
Inscription On north face of base of obelisk, in large deep-cut incised letters:
On south side, raised cast lettering:
Location Greenwich, Greater London
Measurements Dimensions Whole work(840cm high?)
Material Red Aberdeen granite
Notes Set up in 1853 (1855 in Byron) to commemorate Joseph Bellot who lost his life in an attempt to find Sir John Franklin when nothing had been heard from his Arctic expedition to find the North West Passage. Bellot was well liked during his life, and after he died, 2,000 was raised to commemorate him, with 500 being spent on the memorial, and the rest going to support his sisters.
The monument was restored by Paye Stonework and Restoration (020 7928 4000) in about May 1999.
Rights Owner Public Monuments and Sculpture Association
Source UEL
Work Type Obelisk




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