The Pelegrino Triptych

Pelegrino Triptych

This piece by John Hayes appeared in the Centenary edition of the Church Magazine in 1987:

This print of the Crucifixion which has hung on the north wall of St. Andrews since 1970 has a previous naval history and travelled the world under the White Ensign.

In 1950 I was appointed Commander-in-Command of the Aircraft Carrier H.M.S.Ocean. She had been taken from post—war reserve to troop home from abroad naval people being demobilised. I was given six months in Rosyth Dockyard to get her transformed from the sad state in which I found her into her former operational condition and to become a Flagship in the Mediterranean Fleet. There was a bit to do!

Among the countless compartments to re-create was the little chapel. As an offering to its beautiful restoration my wife and I presented this picture. Subsequently on arrival in Malta our second-born was christened in the chapel by the ship’s Chaplain, later to become Chaplain of the Fleet, with whom I established that when the “ageing lady” finally went to the knacker‘s yard the picture should be returned to me.

She was broken up in 1956 by which time I was Captain in command of H.M.S.St. Vincent, a training establishment in Portsmouth for 800 Junior Seamen on joining the R.N.; so the Pelegrino then hung in that chapel to the delight of my Chaplain who was also to become a Chaplain of the Fleet; and because of its personal associations it eventually came back to me when St. Vincent was closed. I retired from the Navy in 1968 after being Flag Officer Scotland for two years, again at Rosyth, and the picture came home to Arabella House which we had bought from the late Sir John and Lady Dick-Lauder in 1957 during my last months in St. Vincent.

As a fellow member of the Vestry with “Lady Dick” in 1970, I, with my wife, offered the print, for reasons which follow below, to Sir Kenneth Murray, the then Chairman, who was pleased to accept it for St. Andrews.
Co-incidence surrounded the making of Arabella House as our home; for Arabella’s husband, Hugh Rose, a son of the Tain Manse, had made his money as a naval victualling officer in the West Indies in the late eighteenth century, provisioning the Fleets of Rodney, Hood and Jarvis, the last named being a particular friend.

On defeating the Spanish in 1797 off Cape St.Vincent (thanks incidentally, largely to the initiative of the Captain of H.M.S.Captain, a certain Horatio Nelson) Jarvis was created Lord St. Vincent from whom naval ships and establishments have inherited the name to this day became Godfather to Arabella’s eldest child, a house in Tain on land once owned by her husband still bears the name St. Vincent; and I was commanding H.M.S.St. Vincent when we purchased the house from a picture in Country Life, utterly unaware of its history.

It also happens that my wife is descended from the Roses of Kilravock who feature in Hugh Rose’s ancestry – an additional link in the necklace of co-incidence.

So for all these reasons the triptych could not have found a more appropriate resting place.

John Hayes