Naval Heritage Centenary

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New Trafalgar Dispatch

On Wednesday 14th September 2005, the Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire, Mrs Mary Fagan, presented the Royal Naval Museum with the New Trafalgar Dispatch.

The New Trafalgar Dispatch was been inspired by the epic journey of Lieutenant John Lapenotiere, who brought the news of Trafalgar – in the form of a ‘dispatch’ or report written by Admiral Collingwood, who had taken command of the British Fleet on Nelson’s death – from off the Spanish coast first to Falmouth in HMS Pickle and then non-stop by horse and carriage to the Admiralty in London.

The new version, written by the Museum’s new Director, Colin White, celebrates not just the ‘victory’ of the British, but also the ‘heroism’ and ‘humanity’ which were displayed by all sides during and after the Battle.

Copies of The New Trafalgar Dispatch have been deposited in each county through which Lapenotiere travelled.  The Museum is receiving Hampshire’s copy and it will on public display.

Mrs Fagan, accompanied by Nelson (played by Alex Naylor), arrived at the Museum in a horse-drawn carriage. 

Lieutenant John Lapenotiere set off from Cadiz on 26th October 1805, sailing into Falmouth in HMS Pickle on November 4th and then riding in coach and horses non-stop to London, delivering the news to the Admiralty at 1.00 am on the morning of 6th November.  The sea journey was 1,000 miles and the land journey 271 miles (involving 21 changes of horse!).

As part of the Trafalgar Bicentenary Celebrations, Lapenotiere’s journey was recreated – though not in real time.  Throughout July and August, copies of the New Trafalgar Dispatch were presented to the counties through which Lapenotiere rode on his way to London.  Hampshire received its copy on 31st August at the Vyne in Basingstoke.

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