Remains of explorer Matthew Flinders to return home

By Paris O'Rourke 24 October 2019
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The remains of British explorer Captain Matthew Flinders, found at the start of this year, will return to his hometown in Donington, England.

THE REMAINS OF explorer Matthew Flinders will be reinterred in his home village after being found under a London train station at the beginning of this year.

After a request by Flinders’ descendants and the local community, the remains will be reburied in the local parish church of St. Mary and The Holy Rood in Donington, Leicestershire, England.

Many of Flinders’ family members are buried here.

While there is not yet a burial date, a specialist team will transfer the remains to the Diocese of Lincoln for safekeeping.

Flinders was understood to be the first person to circumnavigate Australia, and is credited for giving the country its name.

Flinders made several significant voyages. Arriving firstly at what he named Port Lincoln, South Australia, and then travelling to the large island off the South Australian coast, which he named Kangaroo Island, because of the abundance of kangaroos.

While Flinders never received significant recognition for his achievements while alive, he is now a celebrated icon. One of Australia’s largest universities in South Australia is named after him, as well as the iconic Flinders Street station in Melbourne. His name is also associated with the stunning mountain landscape of Flinders Ranges. In 1802 Flinders explored the region, which was later named in his honour – Flinders Ranges National Park.

Flinders’ body was originally found under London’s Euston train station while the area was being excavated for a high-speed rail development project linking London and Birmingham.

Flinders’ remains were thought to be lost as the headstone marking his grave was removed in the 1840s. Buried 205 years ago, the explorer was identified by Archeologists  by the lead breast plate placed on top of his coffin.

Parts of his coffin were preserved due to the lead in the plate, however much of it had crumbled due to the pressure of the earth.

Helen Wass, HS2 (England’s largest linear infrastructure project) Head of Heritage, explains the impact of the discovery.

“The discovery of Captain Matthew Flinders’ remains is an incredible opportunity for us to learn more about the life and remarkable achievements of this British navigator, hydrographer and scientist,” she says.

“It is fitting that the last voyage of Captain Matthew Flinders will be back to the village of Donington where he grew up.”