The historic feats of Donington’s most famous son should reach a much wider audience after an auctioneer and TV crew’s visit to the village on Monday.
Captain Matthew Flinders, the Donington-born explorer who sailed round Australia and give the country its name, was the main attraction for a production team from BBC TV’s Antiques Road Trip.
Flinders’ ancestor, third cousin John Flinders of Nottingham, welcomed Somerset-based auctioneer Claire Rawle to St Mary and the Holy Rood Church, Donington, where she was shown a display dedicated to the celebrated voyager.
Claire said: “We’re always looking for stories of local interest, but also stories that aren’t generally well-known and Matthew Flinders fits that profile.
“He’s massive in Australia where he did very important work, but he’s less well-known here.”
During her visit, Claire was shown a bronze statue of Captain Flinders and his cat Trim that is kept at Thomas Cowley High School.
I love Donington as it seems to have a very strong, beating heart and to come here and see the flower festival shows that it’s a very strong community as wellAuctioneer Claire Rawle of BBC TV’s Antiques Road Trip
John said: “It was a pleasure to meet and work alongside Claire who was very professional and a genuinely nice person.
“She had heard of Matthew Flinders but did not realise the extent of his achievements.
“The Matthew Flinders story is truly a remarkable one.”
Claire and the TV crew, producer Jonathon Hayles, production assistant Paul MacGregor and production assistant Anne-Ryan Kennedy, also saw displays as part of the village’s 50th anniversary flower festival.
As well as the Captain Flinders display, put together by curator Alan James, flower arrangements were based on themes from the Queen’s 90th birthday and Diamond Jubilee to Donington in Bloom and Flinders Founders Teen Park.
Claire said: “I love Donington as it seems to have a very strong, beating heart and to come here and see the flower festival shows that it’s a very strong community as well.”
So how did a doctor’s son from Market Square, Donington, become the single most celebrated name in Australian life and history?
It is estimated that Australia has about 200 statues of Captain Matthew Flinders who was born in Donington on March 16, 1774 and died in London on July 19, 1814.
In-between, Flinders set sail on HMS Investigator in December 1801 and took 19 months to circumnavigate what was to be come Australia, having sailed round the neighbouring island of Tasmania in 1798.
Flinders’ place in Australian folklore was sealed forever in 1804 with his chart of the continent called Terra Australis for which he wrote: “Had I permitted myself any innovation, it would have been to convert it into Australia.”
John said: “Being a distant relative of Matthew Flinders, I am very proud of everything he did and, where possible, I try to increase the public’s awareness of the man.
“The Antiques Road Trip visit gave me the opportunity to speak about Matthew and his boyhood spent in Donington, followed by his event-filled life and, sadly, early demise.
“It was also pleasing to display the maquette belonging to Thomas Cowley High School which is a copy of the full-sized statue at Euston Station in London.
“When the Antiques Road Trip programme is finally broadcast, I believe in November of this year, the watching public will made further aware of Matthew Flinders who is surely one of Britain’s most brilliant navigator-explorers yet a little-known unsung hero.”