A Day Out in London 11 July 2007
Those interested in Jacobite matters who live south of the border may well think they are cut off geographically from most sites of interest and those who live south of Derby probably feel more than slightly isolated from the core. There are many others who live overseas who may well feel the same. However, for those in the south of England there is some compensation and much of that is to be found in London.
Let's start with The Queen’s Chapel of the Savoy. You will find this fascinating little chapel in Savoy St just off The Strand. Turn right out of the Savoy Hotel and take the first street on the right. You cannot miss the chapel. It is part of the Duchy of Lancaster and so owned by HM Queen Elizabeth II.
The Chapel has Jacobite connections as Dr Archibald Cameron is buried beneath the altar of the chapel. The plaque commemorating the event is to be found in the floor to the right of the altar. The plaque replaced both a sculpted tablet that was lost in a fire in 1846 and an inscription beneath a window that was also removed during renovations in 1958. The 1745 Association, Mrs Sonia Cameron-Jacks, Mrs Victora Thorpe, (members of the Association), and The Duchy of Lancaster were influential in the process of providing the new plaque. The plaque was dedicated at a service of commemoration on 7 June 1993.
Dr Archie was brother to Donald Cameron of Locheil without whose support the Rising of 1745 would have had a very poor start. After the defeat at Culloden the Prince, Dr Archie and others took refuge in “Cluny's Cage,” that remote hideaway in the depths of Ben Alder, before final escape to France.
Dr Archie, ever the loyal Jacobite, made several secret visits to Scotland after 1746. Some of these visits were in connection with the fund of money now referred to as “The Loch Arkaig Gold”. He was also involved in “The Elibank Plot”, a rather ridiculous and spectacularly unsuccessful attempt to restore the Stuarts to the throne. Dr Cameron remained in Scotland after the plot was betrayed and was arrested in March 1753. Taken to London he was executed at Tyburn on 7 June 1753, the last man to be put to death for involvement in the '45.
The inscription on the plaque reads, “In memory of Dr Archibald Cameron, brother of Donald Cameron of Lochiel, who having been attainted after the Battle of Culloden in 1746 escaped to France but returning to Scotland was apprehended and executed in 1753. He was buried beneath the altar of this Chapel.”
(Further details may be found on page 16 of “The Jacobite” magazine no.112, Summer 2003)
Next we move on to Kennington. Just south of the River Thames, Kennington is famous for the Oval cricket ground today but in the eighteenth century it was notorious as a place of execution. The gallows stood on a site now occupied by St Mark’s church (built in 1824) and is right opposite the entrance to The Oval underground station.
A number of Jacobite prisoners were put to death here. The plaque on the side of the church says it was twenty-one but that may not be quite accurate. It also states that the prisoners were all captured at Culloden and this is certainly not the case.
Nine members of the Manchester Regiment were among the unfortunates, including the Regimental Colonel, Francis Towneley. The others were Thomas David Morgan, Thomas Siddall, James Dawson, Thomas Deacon, John Beswick, Andrew Blood, Thomas Chadwick and George Fletcher.(source Robert Chambers “History of the Rebellion” Chapter XXIX, Trials and Executions, p443)
Right across the road from the church is The Hanover Arms in Hanover Gardens. I do not know when either was built but if this is “gallows’ humour” then it is rather misplaced.
The prisoners were hung, drawn and quartered and the head of Col. Towneley was severed from his body, impaled on a spike and displayed upon Temple Bar. George Fletcher's head met the same fate I believe but I am unaware of any further details. Maybe someone can help?
The execution of 37 year old Francis Townley on 30 July 1746 was described in The Gentleman's Magazine
“After he had hung for six minutes, he was cut down, and, having life in him, as he lay on the block to be quartered, the executioner gave him several blows on the breast, which not having the effect designed, he immediately cut his throat: after which he took his head off then ripped him open, and took out his bowels and threw them into the fire which consumed them, then he slashed his four quarters, put them with the head into a coffin, and they were deposited till Saturday, August 2nd, when his head was put on Temple Bar, and his body and limbs suffered to be buried.”
The head was possibly removed (on the instructions of his family) from Temple Bar and held in secret by the Towneley family until 1945 when it was interred in the Towneley vault in Burnley.
Temple Bar originally stood where Fleet Street meets the Strand but because of traffic congestion it was removed in January 1878. After a period in storage it was erected as a gateway to a park and mansion at Theobalds Park, between Enfield and Cheshunt in 1889. The Temple Bar Trust was established in 1976 with the intention of returning Temple Bar to London In 1984 permission was granted to erect Temple Bar in Paternoster Square, adjacent to St Paul’s Cathedral and on 10 November 2004 the structure was officially returned to the City of London. There are four statues set in niches on Temple Bar. The two in the photograph are Kings Charles I & II and on the other side are James I (& VI) and his wife Anne of Denmark.
The bodies of those of The Manchester Regiment were buried in St George’s Gardens, King's Cross. The gardens may be found between Judd St and Gray’s Inn Road. You may note from the St George’s website that Col Towneley is not mentioned. There are also a couple of name differences from those cited by R. Chambers. (Andrew Blydes and John Borwick as opposed to Andrew Blood and John Beswick). I presume the bodies were buried in unmarked graves. There is no marker of any kind to remind people of their fate. Perhaps there should be.
A PDF file (part of www.Burnley.gov.uk) shows the position of Francis Towneley in the family tree (you will find him on p17). The same Tracing the Towneleys p26 states that Francis is buried in St Pancras (close to Kings Cross but is he in St George’s Gardens or not?)
As an aside from Jacobite (but not Royal House of Stuart) matters you may be interested to know that Anna the sixth daughter of Richard Cromwell, the second “Protector of England” and son of Oliver was buried in St George’s Gardens in 1727.
Who has heard of the children’s book “How the Hangman Lost his Heart” by Katie Grant? Well you might have but I had not. One of Ms Grant's ancestors was Francis Towneley and this inspired her to write the book. There are lots of websites available but this one is as good as any.
We have this contribution from Mr Geoff Topliss:
You may be interested to hear that two heads
were interred in the Towneley vault in
Plaque commemorating the incognito visit of Prince Charles Edward Stuart to London in 1750.