Some recently visited English sites, Part II: A crypt-bound crow's-nest.

Episode: 58. Site Number: 280. Date Posted: 8 March 1998. Location: London, UK. Type: Artifact.

All Hallows Barking

All Hallows Barking (by the Tower) is a church with lots of history: the foundations date to the 11th century; from its tower Pepys viewed the effects of the Great Fire, 'the saddest sight of desolation'; and here William Penn was christened and John Quincy Adams married.
      And down below in the crypt is an unlikely Antarctic artifact, the crow's-nest from Shackleton's Quest. It's a simple wooden barrel with four slender metal roped-together uprights extending from its top. The brass tablet affixed to it reads:

"Once the Crow's Nest used by Sir Ernest Shackleton on his last Antarctic expedition in the good ship Quest, now brought here by "Tubby" in quest of "siller" for Talbot House. 'Winds blow south, or winds blow north. Day come white, or night come black. Home, or rivers and mountains from home, singing all time minding no time.' Walt Whitman"
Quest's Crow's Nest       I was to learn from the verger that "Tubby" was F.T.B. Clayton, the vicar (from 1920 to 1963); that "siller" is a nickname for a Scottish coin, perhaps a sixpence; and that "Talbot House" was a World War I rest and recuperation home in Flanders.
      The Quest started life as a Norwegian sealer and was not in the best of shape when it sailed from London on September 17, 1921. Apparently, neither was Sir Ernest for it was on this, his fourth Antarctic expedition, that he died, on the 5th of January 1922 at South Georgia (where he now lies buried). Opposite page 108 of Shackleton's Last Voyage is a photograph of Frank Wild and the crow's nest.
      All Hallows is just to the west and within sight of the Tower at Byward Street EC3. [Next door is the modern Bowring House, the headquarters of what was once Bowring Brothers, owners of Scott's Terra Nova and the Aurora, used by Mawson in 1911-14 and Shackleton in 1914-17 (Ross Sea Party).]

My thanks to Margot Morrell for first mentioning this site to me (and to Antony Bowring for additional information and useful contacts).