At the junction of New Road and Gibraltar Hill, behind the statue of Lieutenant Thomas Waghorn, is a smaller memorial which has always seemed a little mysterious because, until about 2003, it was more-or-less hidden in the bushes. When Medway Council carried out minor renovations they cleared away the plants and revealed a memorial to 21 officers and men of HMS Barfleur.
The memorial is in the background to the right of the tree in this picture:
HMS Barfleur was built at HM Dockyard Chatham, and launched on 10th August 1892. Between 1898 and 1901, the Barfleur was the flagship of the China Station's second in command, and in 1899 and 1900 took part in Allied operations during the Boxer Rebellion. During this time a Commander Beatty was serving on board, and was wounded at Tientsin. He later became Admiral of the Fleet, Earl Beatty.
Although the Barfleur and her sister ships had been the fastest battleships in the world when they were built, they were outclassed by the new dreadnoughts which appeared in 1906. In 1910, after just 16 years of service, she was sold for scrap.
The HMS Barfleur memorial is around twelve feet tall, although it seems smaller somehow, and is still behind railings at the top of Gibraltar Hill. In this photograph, looking eastwards across New Road, you can see the old court house in the backgroud.
The memorial is inscribed as follows:
memory of the
officers and men
who lost their lives
in China during the
Boxer Rebellion of 1900
All photographs © 2009 Jason Ross