The blueprint for a Franciscan chapel built in the Falkland Islands by the Spanish sometime after 1768 and which apparently caught fire and was destroyed in 1811, was found by an Argentine historian and researcher at the General Archive of the Indies in Seville, according to a piece published by Martin Dinatale in the Buenos Aires media.
The announcement follows the publishing of three letters, an epistolary exchange from 1767 between then Spanish governor of Buenos Aires Francisco Bucarelli y Ursúa and the alleged first governor of the Malvinas Islands, Felipe Ruiz Puente which were revealed by Senator Julio Cobos, and in effect anticipated plans to build a chapel in East Falkland or Soledad Island.
Historian Roberto Colimodio came up with information of the documents he found in the archives of Seville which include a blueprint and instructions for the construction of the chapel, dated 1768, a continuation of the previous three letters, discovered by another researcher whose name has yet to be disclosed.
On 22nd March 1768 governor Felipe Ruiz Puente sends Buenos Aires an outline of the layout of the provisional Franciscan chapel in the Malvinas Islands with notes and dates in the margins, describing how the construction was evolving and anticipating the final touches for the inside of the temple.
According to Dinatale's piece the document can be seen in the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports PARES site and physically at the Archives of Indies in Seville.
Governor Ruiz Puente also points out that the blueprint with the outlay and notes is a bit outdated since it was written before the arrival of a couple of frigates with some of the requests and provisions, and thus at the moment doors and windows have been concluded and work is ongoing to finish the inside of the chapel, Malvinas 22 March 1768
Further details of the provisional blueprint of the Chapel in the Malvinas islands indicate A, chapel; D, sacristy; B, room for one of the chaplains; C room for another chaplain; E, kitchen and room of the servant; F, partitions made out of wood with their respective doors
The notes also indicate the chapel is concluded with the exception of doors, windows and partitions because of the lack of wood, which apparently had not reached at the time the lines were written, and points out that the height of the nave, from the ground floor to the sail cloth ceiling is nine feet and six inches.
Historian Colimodio underlines that the documents indicate that the 1767 epistolary exchange between the governors of Malvinas and Buenos Aires was not made up and in effect a chapel was built”.
Furthermore Colimodio who is a member of the Argentine History Academy and of the Sanmartiniano Institute, affirms there are other documents at the General Archives of the Indies which reveal the chapel caught fire in 1811 and in September 1816, a pilot from the Spanish navy, Gabriel Francisco de la Quintana effectively saw it had caught fire.
Senator Cobos, no stranger to the Falklands which he visited in 2014, and who was Cristina Fernandez vice-president (2007/11) (a political marriage which ended terribly), said he contacted the Argentine foreign ministry suggesting they make a formal request to the Archives of the Indies for certified copies of the documents which will enrich Argentine history and the Malvinas Islands sovereignty claim.
Apparently the Foreign ministry already has certified copies of the documents, and former minister Susana Malcorra allegedly was quoted saying that these new documents could help bend in favor of Argentina, the vote of several country at the C24 UN decolonization committee.
However from the Falklands the Penguin News consulted a British researcher who argued that the “in fact the letters are nothing of the sort. They are about the establishment of the Spanish penal settlement at Port Louis” He added that the Spanish takeover of the French settlement at Port Louis episode was very well known to historians and that there are lots of documents in Spanish, Argentine and British archives from that period when Britain was also established at Port Egmont on Saunders Island