Ten years in the making, now historian John’s new paper points to Stevenage pub as home of a Trafalgar hero
- Credit: Archant
Military historians have long known that one of those in command at Britain’s greatest naval victory had Stevenage connections – but now the work of a local historian has shed light on some of the hazier details.
The report by John Amess, of Headingley Close in Stevenage, looks into where exactly Captain Robert Redmill is buried, and identifies the Granby pub in Saunders Green as the house where he probably lived.
Captain Redmill, originally from Stamford in Lincolnshire, helmed HMS Polyphemus at Trafalgar in 1805, and lived in Saunders Green from 1807 until his death in 1819.
But the exact location of his grave at the town’s St Nicholas Church has been lost over the years, and Club 1805 – an organisation dedicated to conserving memorials to naval heroes of the Georgian era – wanted to track it down.
John, 83, was drawn into the hunt by Stevenage Museum in 2005, at the time of the bicentenary celebrations for Trafalgar.
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He said: “I’ve been working on it for about 10 years, while researching other subjects as well. I published a version in 2011, but that was about five per cent of this one.”
John is something of an authority on Stevenage history and this paper is the latest of nine he has published since 1987.
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He has settled on what’s now the Granby – previously known as the Marquis of Granby, and named like many pubs in honour of the British commander in chief in the 18th century Seven Years’ War – as the site of Redmill’s home after piecing together hints from a wide variety of sources.
“We went through the maps and estate plans, and I knew there were only about seven houses it could possibly be,” said John.
“Then about five years ago, in the National Archives, we came across an inventory for Captain Redmill’s house prepared as part of the documentation associated with his will. “From that we were able to deduce what kind of house it was, and the Granby, built in about 1745, was the only one that fitted.
“I was initially surprised, as there had been reports elsewhere that had led me to discount it – but I’m quite satisfied with it now.”
John’s report compares the description of Redmill’s house in the 1819 inventory to a statement advertising the Granby for sale in 1823, a month after the Redmill lease would have expired.
The locations and descriptions closely coincide and, John concludes, strongly point to their being the same building.
Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of John and others, there has not been major progress regarding the original goal of locating the spot where Captain Redmill was buried.
The burial register at St Nicholas Church records his funeral and interment there on February 27, 1819, eight days after his death at the Swan Inn in London Colney.
“It was disappointing,” said John.
“John Austin, of Austin’s funeral directors, funerals, searched his records to try to find some clue.
“He suggested we look at where others from dates around then were buried, but Redmill, being a celebrity, could have been buried anywhere in the churchyard.
“It is a shame, it would have been wonderful to find the actual grave.”
John’s report, which is 25 pages long, will be held in libraries and at the county record office.