Monday, February 16, 2009


As the world marks the 200th-birthday of Charles Darwin, we head to Paglesham in Essex to find the final resting place of his exploratory ship, HMS Beagle.

As promised my young friends in Australia, here are a few photos for their Darwin project. This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of one of Britain's greatest scientists, Charles Darwin, and 150 years since the publication of his controversial work 'On The Origin of the Species' thesis. Between 1831 and 1836 the young Darwin joined the crew of the HMS Beagle as a naturalist and it was on the vessel's trip around the Galapagos Islands that he developed his evolutionary ideas.

As mentioned in my latest book FOLKLORE OF ESSEX, HMS Beagle is believed to be in the Paglesham mud. The Beagle is thought to have ended its days off the Essex marshes and one of its anchors now rests in the back garden of local historian Ann Boulter.

"When we got it out of the river, it was put in our garden," said Ann. "We lodged it with the receiver of wrecks and after a year we were told it belonged to our group, which is the Beagle Ship Research Group. So it's all been done above board. She's sitting in our front garden, but one day she'll have to go somewhere else. Perhaps on the sea wall, where the Beagle spent 25 years.

"We would love see something on the sea wall - either a plinth saying she was here for 25 years, or perhaps the anchor set in concrete", Local historian, Ann Boulter. "It's just a pipe dream at the moment, but one has to dream and it would be a nice place for it to go."

The Beagle came to be in the waters of south Essex when she was stood down by the
Admiralty as an exploration ship and given to the coast guard. It was originally located in the middle of the River Roach, but was soon forced into the old docks in the Paglesham mud flats. "The oystermen found she was fouling against their anchor chains and petitioned for it to be brought ashore - so she was brought here," explains Ann.