Admiral Richard Goodwin Keats (1757-1834), by Sir Francis Chantrey (1781-1941). 1835. Marble. The Chapel, Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, London SE10. This is the earlier of a pair of busts on tall pedestals beside the main chapel entrance, both representing naval heroes who became Governors of the Greenwich Hospital (as it then was). Admiral Keats was a fine naval officer not distinguished by any particular great victory, but "for countless minor excellencies" (qtd. in Sainsbury), who became Governor of the hospital in 1821 and died in Greenwich. His funeral was held in this chapel, and his remains went to a mausoleum in the (then) hospital's grounds.

The bust, like its companion, which is of Sir Thomas Hardy, is notable partly for its ornately finished pedestal. It was commissioned by William IV himself. The king had served under Keats as a midshipman when he was a young man, and held him in high esteem. Prominently displayed at the front of Chantrey's typically vigorous-looking likeness of the admiral is the royal standard, and a scroll bearing the admiral's Spanish motto, taken from a commemorative medal: "Mi patria es mi norte" — "My country is my north."

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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.]


Sainsbury, A. B. "Keats, Sir Richard Goodwin (1757-1834)." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online ed. Web. 20 May 2012.

Last modified 20 May 2012