Following The Trafalgar Way
The Trafalgar Way, by which news of the battle of Trafalgar reached London passes through five of our offices.
It is 1805 and the British Navy has just beaten the French and Spanish at the battle of Trafalgar but fatalities have been high and the illustrious commander in chief, Admiral Nelson, has been killed. Shortly after the battle a severe storm blew up and lasted for several days. Collingwood, Nelson’s right hand man, was faced with the challenge of ensuring the safety and survival of his own and the captured ships and reporting the outcome of the battle to the Admiralty in London as soon as possible.
Lieutenant John Richards Lapenotière, of HMS Pickle, reached Falmouth on 4 November after a hard voyage in bad weather. He raced to London bearing the dispatches containing the momentous news of Lord Nelson's victory and death on 21 October.
He rode ‘express in a post chaise and four’ an incredible 271 miles in 37 hours with average speeds of 7mph. There were 21 stops on his journey where he had to change horses and he managed this all at a reasonable £46.00. Edited versions of Collingwood’s delivered documents were published in the London Gazette on 6th November just two days after Lapenotière landed back on British soil.
The first report contained the words "I fear the numbers that have fallen will be found very great, when the returns come to me; but it having blown a gale of wind ever since the action, I have not yet had it in my power to collect any reports from the ships". This news triggered understandable anxiety, particularly amongst the families of the 18,465 men who had been with Nelson at Trafalgar, to learn the details of the casualty lists, or "butcher’s bill" as they were commonly known.
The route Lapenotière took became known as The Trafalgar Way and passed through Axminster, Bridport, Dorchester, Blandford and Salisbury where there are Symonds & Sampson offices as well as Truro, Faddon, Bodmin, Launceston, Okehampton, Crockernwell Exeter, Honiton, Woodyates, Andover, Overton, Basingstoke, Hartfordbridge, Bagshot, Staines and Hounslow.
If you decide to retrace Lapenotière's route do please call into the five Symonds & Sampson offices on the way and we will point you in the right direction to find the black plaques commemorating the famous Trafalgar Way.
Keen cyclist? You can also ‘Ride The Trafalgar Way’ and raise money for Cancer Research this July. With a ride for every level up to a 24 hour day and night ride there is something for everyone. Find out more at their website here https://ridethetrafalgarway.com/