Thursday, 3 November 2016

Horatia, a hero's daughter

I love what I can discover when I keep my eyes and mind open on my walks. England is so rich in history I am constantly amazed. For instance, only yesterday I decided to walk to Pinner village. I wanted to return to the church to take photos for another post (flat battery when I went there the first time) On the way there I passed Paines Lane Cemetery (appropriately enough on the intersection of Paine and Love Lane). I wasn’t too hopeful of anything too interesting as the commentary at the church had been very clear that Pinner church, while a solid architectural example, had no remarkable embellishments. That was because Pinner had never been home to anyone rich and powerful enough to want to impress with gilded angel ceilings or carved screens at their local place of worship. But it was a sunny autumn afternoon, and the graveyard was pleasantly sited.

Armed with my trusty smart phone and my “all you can eat” data from 3, I was able to google Paines Lane Cemetery and find… wow… Horatia Nelson Ward and some other family members are buried here. Then switching to the 'find a grave site’ I was able to quickly identify the grave from photos.

Why was I excited? For those of you whose only contact with the name Horatio is from Miami CSI of the (Shelton girls, for shame! What do they teach kids at school these days?) let me elucidate. My interest in naval history means that the first Horatio* to spring to my mind is Horatio Nelson, victor of Trafalgar. His exploits as a rising naval officer during the Napoleonic Wars made him the darling of the nation despite his scandalous public love life. Although married, the love of Nelson’s life, Lady Emma Hamilton was married to someone else! The British Library has on display the letter Nelson was writing to her on the eve of the battle of Trafalgar.

Emma bore him a child out of wedlock: the said Horatia. She was only a child when her father died at Trafalgar. She was brought up by her mother in straitened circumstances, because the nation preferred to show its admiration to the dead father by erecting grand monuments like Nelson’s Column rather than paying a pension to support his only child. Sadly Horatia was proud of her famous father, but never accepted that Emma, who brought her up, was actually her birth mother.

My writing time is up for today: more on Horatia/Horatio another day…

*Not forgetting Horatio, Hamlet’s bestie; Horatio Hornblower; Horatio the schoolboy killed by  a  polar bear; or the original Horatio who kept the bridge.

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