As my husband and I had both served in the Royal Navy for many years we instinctively felt a duty to try and raise awareness of the condition of this monument and to explore ways to have it restored. Having served at NATO for two years previously we started by contacting the local NATO Commander and, through his offices, we were given a contact in the Oeiras Town Council (Câmara de Oeiras).
We wrote to the Mayor in May 2016 and met with two of its representatives on 9th June 2016. At this stage Mr David Wright, Managing Director of Angloinfo, joined us to ensure there were no language barriers. The meeting proved to be very constructive and we were able to highlight the opportunity for the Cãmara and the population of foreign residents to come closer together through working on such an interesting project of restoration.
The Cãmara were very positive and enthusiastic about helping us with the initiative but it became clear that they needed to find out who owned the monument; the Câmara itself, the Army or the Association of Forts. It has since been established that the Monument, which is beside the road which runs along the river’s edge, known as the Marginal, falls under the responsibility of the Public Road Authority – Infraestruturas de Portugal (IP).
In March 2017 we received confirmation from the Oeiras Câmara and the IP that permission had been granted by all the authorities concerned and a budget for the restoration of the Monument had been determined. On 16th March we met again at Oeiras Town Hall with their Director of Urban Planning and Management, Arquitect Luís Baptista Fernandes, who remembers well from his childhood the “monument to the dead Englishman”. He will be responsible on behalf of the Câmara for coordinating all of the logistics and permissions to be granted by the authorities in respect of the restoration project. At our meeting we discussed the timing of the restoration work which is to be planned for June. A proposed date was agreed for a re-dedication ceremony to be held in late September.
The 1805 Club were contacted as they have an interest in the preservation or restoration of Napoleonic Wars British naval monuments, e.g. Sir Sydney Smith in Paris, etc. They were unaware of any such monuments to naval personnel in the Peninsular War, as it was obviously essentially a military affair. (1805club.org)
St George’s Church, Lisbon Edward Godfrey, Church Warden at St. George’s Church, Lisbon, and Secretary of the British Historical Association of Portugal, had a look at the burial registers at St. George’s and discovered that there no entries for deaths from 1808 to 1810 nor in the list of gravestone inscriptions. The presumption is, that as Lisbon was occupied by the French at the time, Conway Shipley’s body was unlikely to have made it to the Cemetery there!
St Mary’s Church, Rhuddlan, North Wales Rev Canon Ian Day kindly took photographs of the inscriptions in the chapel where there is a memorial to Conway Shipley which reads:
Post-Captain in the Royal Navy
Their third son
Was killed in a gallant attempt
To cut out a FRENCH vessel
From the TAGUS
And is buried in PORTUGAL
Under a monument erected to his memory
By the Officers of the BRITISH Fleet
On the Station
April 23 1808 aged 25
The following people have been invited to attend:
The President of the Oeiras Camara, Dr. Paulo César Sanches Casinhas da Silva Vistas
The British Ambassador, Mrs Kirsty Hayes
The Head of NATO, Rear-Admiral P. McAlpine
The retired Archbishop of Wales, Barry Morgan
Maj Gen Rui Moura GNR
Senior representatives from Infraestruturas de Portugal
Senior representatives from the Câmara de Oeiras
We will be reporting later on the progress of the restoration project and again on the Rededication Ceremony in September.
Major General Rui Moura, Comandante Operacional Guarda Nacional Republicana
Baron Lord Decies
Edward Godfrey, St George’s Church Lisbon and British Historical Society
Rui Alexandre Ribolhos Filipe, Historian and Archeologist
Reverend Canon Ian Day, Vicar of Rhuddlan & Bodelwyddan, Area Dean of St. Asaph
Chari Empis, Principal, Oeiras International School
David Wright, Angloinfo
by Jackie Kennard.