Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy (1769-1839),” by William Behnes (?1791-1864). 1843. Marble. The Chapel, Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, London SE10. One of a pair of busts on tall pedestals beside the main chapel entrance, both of naval heroes who became Governors of the Greenwich Hospital (as it then was). This one pays tribute to Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy (1769-1839), most famous now and perhaps even then for having been with Nelson at his last hour. After his distinguished naval career, Hardy was appointed Governor of the Greenwich Hospital in 1834, having left the Admiralty in despair at recent economies. He proved an enlightened administrator there. One of his most welcome reforms was probably his abolition of the practice of making those naval pensioners who got drunk on Sundays wear specially garish coats as a mark of shame (see Laughton and Lambert).

Hardy looks genial, and the monument as a whole is pleasing, the drapery here more successful than in some of his larger sculptures — see Benedict Read, who discusses his lack of "flow and continuity" elsewhere (169). Fronting the decorative top of the pedestal is a medallion relief of Nelson in profile, and a scroll echoing Nelson's last inspiring signal at the Battle of Trafalgar; "England expects every man to do his duty."

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Photographs and text by Jacqueline Banerjee, 2012, with thanks to the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich. [You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. Click on the thumbnails for larger images.]


Laughton, J. K., rev. Andrew Lambert. "Hardy, Sir Thomas Masterman (1769-1839)." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online ed. Viewed 20 May 2012.

Read, Benedict. Victorian Sculpture. New Haven & London: Yale, 1982.

Last modified 20 May 2012