Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Briton/Breton Historical Trail (1)

The trail is developing well. I've just spent a day on the island of Molène, in the Atlantic between the continent and Ouessant (Ushant). It's a small place of 100 hectares and only 250 regular year-round inhabitants. It makes a pleasant change from the Celtic saints and Hundred Years War incidents to be researching an event, albeit a tragic one, from the Victorian era for my Briton/Breton historical trail. On June 16, 1896 the steamship Drummond Castle hit the rocks (Pierres Vertes) west of Molène on the last night of its voyage from South Africa to England, and sank within minutes. Fishermen saved two sailors and one passenger early the next morning, but the other 244 people on board perished. 29 of the bodies recovered were buried in a special corner of the churchyard on Molène. The islanders received thanks both practical and spiritual, with Queen Victoria putting up the cost of a cistern, which still stands near the church, to relieve the perennial freshwater problem, and the Guild of All Souls sending a jewelled chalice and plate to the priest in acknowledgement of the Christian burials accorded to the victims.

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