Franklin relics, A Matter of Life and Death, Polar Equipment and Relics

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Badge: Royal Hanovarian Guelphic Order, 2nd class (Order)

Franklin relics

Object details:

Object ID AAA2079
Description A relic of Sir John Franklin's last expedition 1845-8. The badge of a Knight Commander, of the Royal Hanovarian Guelphic Order awarded to Sir John Franklin on 25 January 1836. It was obtained from the Inuit at Repulse Bay in 1854 by the Rae Expedition. The Inuit said that they had found the material at a camp to the north west of the mouth of the Back River where a party of Europeans had died of starvation. The item is shown in the drawing by Edward Pulleyn AAA3972 and in the 'Illustrated London News' November 4 1854 p. 433. It was presented to Greenwich Hospital by the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, 2nd December 1854. The order was founded by the Prince Regent, later George IV in 1815. The badge is a Maltese cross with a gold ball on each point. There is a gold lion between each arm of the cross. The centre medallion is enamelled red with green at the base and shows the white horse of Hanover. This is surrounded by a band of light blue enamel inscribed with the motto of the order 'NEC ASPERA TERRENT' (nor do difficulties daunt). This in turn is surrounded by a gold oak wreath. On the reverse on red enamel are the initials of the founder and the date of founding in gold letters. Franklin joined the Royal Navy in 1800 and accompanied Matthew Flinders on his circumnavigation of Australia in 1802-1803. He was midshipman in ‘Bellerophon’ at Trafalgar. Still a junior officer at the end of the war, he subsequently became involved in Arctic exploration. Franklin commanded the ‘Trent’ in 1818 in an attempt to find a route to the North Pole through the pack ice north of Spitsbergen. An overland expedition to the Arctic coast in 1819-1822, though not unsuccessful, ended with some loss of life and the near starvation of the survivors. A second overland expedition in 1825-1827 went more smoothly, although Franklin's first wife, Eleanor Porden, died during his absence. He remarried Jane Griffin in 1828. Between 1837 and 1844 Franklin served as Lieutenant Governor of Van Diemen's Land. On his return to England he accepted the command of an expedition to chart the unexplored gap in the North West passage. His two ships ‘Erebus’ and ‘Terror’ sailed in 1845, their fate only revealed years later, after many search expeditions. Franklin died on board ship whilst beset off King William Island before his crews abandoned their vessels in a futile attempt to treck south to safety.
Date made 1836

Artist/Maker Unknown
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Greenwich Hospital Collection
Materials gold; enamel
Measurements Overall: 85 x 65 x 10 mm
  • Badge: Royal Hanovarian Guelphic Order, 2nd class (Order) (AAA2079)
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