THE QUEST: CROWS NEST
2 Bristol: Start date around 01/06/2022. SOUTHAMPTON – 17/06/2022 – Voyage to Falkland Islands on MV Scout
3 Stanley: Start date around 01/06/202PORT STANLEY – Falkland Islands ETA 06/08/2022.
4 Grytviken: KING EDWARD POINT – ETA September 2022. ETA October 2022.
‘Apart from her white crow’s nest and exceptionally large bridge, there is little to distinguish the vessel… but the romance of her mission and the fame of her chief Sir Ernest Shackleton, invested the Quest with a glory of her own.’
Leeds Mercury, 17 August 1921
In 1921, Shackleton returned to the Antarctic on the Shackleton-Rowett Antarctic Expedition; an ambitious two-year ‘oceanographical and sub-Antarctic expedition’. More commonly known as the Quest Expedition after the expedition ship, it was to be Shackleton’s fourth and final Antarctic expedition.
Quest was launched in 1917 in Norway and originally named Foca I. She was a small, two-masted wooden schooner of 205 tons, purchased by Shackleton for the expedition and renamed Quest at the suggestion of Lady Shackleton. Built for Arctic waters, she had a 125-horsepower steam engine and a reinforced bow sheathed in steel but needed extensive refitting for the Antarctic pack-ice. Modifications included a new crow’s nest.
Quest returned to London in September 1922. Shackleton’s original cabin in the deckhouse was removed, as well as the crow’s nest she went back to sea in Norway. Quest survived World War II, working as a mine sweeper, but was eventually sunk by ice in 1962 off the coast of Labrador whilst on a seal hunting expedition.
Both Shackleton’s cabin and the crow’s nest still survive today and are all that remain of the ship in which Sir Ernest Shackleton made his final voyage. The crow’s nest now resides in the crypt of All Hallows by the Tower church , London.
The answer to the mystery of how the crow’s nest found its way to a church crypt in London can be found on the inscription ‘brought here by Tubby in Quest of Siller for Talbot House.’
‘Tubby’ was the vicar of All Hallows, the Reverend Philip Clayton, nicknamed ‘Tubby’ whilst serving as chaplain on the Western Front during the World War I. He opened the Talbot House as a rest home for wounded and shellshocked soldiers. The Rev. Clayton would tour with the crow’s nest using it as an attraction to raise funds for the hospice.
The South Georgia Museum at Grytviken is marking 2022, the centenary year of the Quest Expedition and the untimely death of Shackleton. The crow’s nest will feature in a very special exhibition, Shackleton’s’ Last Quest and will be travelling back to South Georgia.