Image: Left to right: Revd Katherine Hedderly, Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, HRH The Princess Royal, SGHT Chairman Nick Prentice.

The achievements of the intrepid explorer and renowned leader Sir Ernest Shackleton were celebrated in a public event attended by SGHT Patron, HRH The Princess Royal. The focus of the special event, hosted by SGHT in London, UK, on 7 September, was the return of the Quest crow’s nest.

Shackleton’s original Quest Crow’s Nest is the lookout barrel from his fourth and final expedition ship Quest. It has been on a journey around the world via Ireland to South Georgia and back and has now returned to its home at All Hallows by the Tower in London where HRH The Princess Royal welcomed it back.

The Crow’s Nest is one of the last vestiges of Shackleton’s ship Quest, the ship used on the Shackleton-Rowett Antarctic Expedition, also known as The Quest Expedition. It has been the centrepiece of the South Georgia Museum’s ‘Shackleton’s Last Quest’ exhibition in Grytviken for the past year and a half, its first return to South Georgia since the Quest Expedition in 1922.

The Quest Expedition was Shackleton’s last journey. After a rough journey south, the ship arrived at the quiet waters of King Edward Cove in South Georgia on 4 January 1922. Shackleton unexpectedly died of a heart attack in the early hours the next morning. His untimely death saw an outpouring of grief across the world and came to be seen as the end of the heroic era of polar exploration. Shackleton was buried on 5 March 1922 in the small cemetery at the whaling station at Grytviken.

Find out more about South Georgia’s strong link with Sir Ernest Shackleton here

The event at All Hallows provided not only an opportunity to celebrate the return of the Crow’s Nest, but also brought together modern-day polar explorers including Dr John Shears, the leader of the Endurance22 expedition, funded by the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust, which discovered the resting place of Shackleton’s famous ship Endurance on the seafloor beneath the ice in the Antarctic’s Weddell Sea.

The iconic Managers Villa at Stromness in South Georgia marks a pivotal moment in the rescue of the shipwrecked Endurance crew. SGHT will be conserving this building that is so central to this inspirational story of survival and great leadership.

SGHT has created a short film about the historic Stromness Manager’s Villa. It is narrated by TV presenter and historian Dan Snow, who was also a member of the Endurance22 team. In it Dan Snow explains how Shackleton, Frank Worsley and Tom Crean’s bedraggled arrival at the door of the villa was the key moment for the rescue of the rest of the shipwrecked crew left behind on Elephant Island. The Villa remains as a rare piece of built heritage associated with the powerful Endurance story; it is also one of the oldest buildings at Stromness. The film shows never-before seen footage of the Villa as it is now and the degradation that the ravages of the South Georgia climate have caused over the years. You can watch the film here.