Remembering one of Chichester's great heroes 200 years after his death

Murray
Murray

Chichester will be marking the 200th anniversary of the death of Admiral Sir George Murray, the great Georgian Cicestrian and Captain of the Fleet to Lord Nelson.

The Murray Club and the University of Chichester are staging a recreation of a typical Georgian subscription concert when they offer The Muses of Murray in the Assembly Room on Saturday, September 21 at 7.30pm.

Spokesman Alan Green said: “Those subscription concerts were organised in later Georgian times by the composer John Marsh who lived in North Pallant. Marsh and Murray were great friends so, when he was not at sea, the Admiral would have been a regular attender of the concerts which took place in the very same room as will The Muses of Murray.

“The concert will be given by the University of Chichester Conservatoire Chamber Orchestra, conductor Simon Growcott, with soprano soloist Eleanor Farmer. It includes works by Boyce, Purcell and Mozart as well as John Marsh’s stirring Symphony No 7 La Chasse. The second part will comprise extracts from Handel’s Water Music.

“Proceeds from the concert will go towards the life-size Nelson and Murray sculpture by Vincent Gray which is to be set up in the city to commemorate this great Cicestrian and his national-hero master Lord Nelson.”

Tickets, price £12.50, are available from Chichester Box Office at the Novium Museum, Tower Street, boxoffice@chichester.gov.uk; tel 01243 816525; or on the door.

Chichester Mayor and keen Murray student Richard Plowman underlines Murray’s historical importance: “If Murray hadn’t had to stay behind and miss Trafalgar, Nelson might well have said ‘Kiss me, Murray’ and not ‘Kiss me, Hardy!’”

A biography of Murray came out in 2002: “And it was the first I had heard about Admiral Sir George Murray,” Richard said. “He was the chap who built The Ship, he was mayor of Chichester and he was very, very high up in Nelson’s navy.

“And he also had a very respected and active life in Chichester. Georgian Chichester was the place to be at that time. It was really buzzing.”

“Murray missed Trafalgar because his father-in-law died, and Murray was an executor in the will. But he had a very distinguished career. The thing about Nelson’s navy was that it was a meritocracy. You didn’t get there because of who you were. You got there because of your talents. One of the reasons we won at Trafalgar was because the fleet was in such a good way because of Murray’s work. He was also always very concerned about the men.

“He redesigned the uniform because he noticed the tunic top was short and there was a gap between it and the tops of their trousers. The men were always catching colds. Murray made the tunic top lower to make the gap disappear.”

For this and plenty of other reasons Richard is keen that Chichester should mark him: “Here was a Chichester man, born in Chichester and died in Chichester, a very brave man who was one of Chichester’s heroes.

“Murray was 18 and on HMS Bristol and there was a battle in the Caribbean.

“It was a frightful engagement. Everyone on the poop deck was killed except for Murray. He remained at his post while all this was going on.

“Imagine that at the age of just 18...”

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