New Trafalgar Dispatch

The bicentenary of the victory at Trafalgar and the death of Admiral Lord Nelson was celebrated in 2005.  Bagshot had a major role in those celebrations.
The news was brought by post-chaise from Falmouth, Cornwall to London by Lieutenant Lapenotiere along what is now the A30. The journey, which covered 271 miles was completed in 37 hours at an average speed of 7.25 miles per hour with 22 changes of horses along the route. In Surrey there were horse changes in Bagshot and Staines.

As part of the Trafalgar celibrations the journey was re-created, albeit a little earlier than the 'proper' date in November. A post chaise (horse drawn carriage) carrying an actor dressed as Lieutenant Lapenotiere visited each of the locations at which horses were changed. The actor was accompanied by a Naval officer who read the New Trafalgar Dispatch and presented copies to civic dignatories.  This took place in Bagshot on 3rd September 2005, a gloriously sunny Saturday afternoon.

The post chaise is seen above in the High Street alongside a contemporary building which at that time was the Bull ale house.

horse drawn carriage and a man in old naval uniform addressing a crowd of people

It is estimated that 500 people attended the celebration, for a while completly blocking the road!

Supporting events included music from the Bagshot Band, Morris dancing, and displays by Surrey Heath Museum and the Surrey Heath Archaeological & Heritage Trust. Activities for children included the chance to write with quill pens, storytelling and a fancy-dress competition .

In honour of this journey the A30 has been renamed The Trafalgar Way and a commemorative plaque has been placed wherever horse changes took place. Ours is on the Jubilee lamp in the Square and was unveiled by the Chairman of the Parish Council and the Mayor of Surrey Heath.

An Ordnance Survey map of the whole of the Trafalgar Way has been published, showing the route taken and additional historical information. 

Whether the 'new' name for the A30 will ever really catch on at a local level is doubtful for whatever it may be called on long distance maps, for practical reasons local road names are unlikely to change from London Road and Jenkins Hill.

A charity, the 1805 Club, has as its aims the preservation of monuments and memorials relating to Nelson and seafarers of the Georgian era, and related activities. They have taken on the task of  preserving the story of The Trafalgar Way.

They would like to hear from anyone who would be willing to share with them their memories of the day in September 2005.  You can contact them via their page (link above) or via this website.

The post chaise leaves Bagshot.

The text of the New Trafalgar Dispatch

The New Trafalgar Dispatch

"A complete and glorious Victory"
(Vice Admiral Collingwood's Dispatch, 22 October 1805)

On 21 October 1805, the Royal Navy, under the command of Vice Admiral Lord Nelson, won a great
victory over the combined fleets of France and Spain, off Cape Trafalgar. The battle finally ended
the threat of invasion by the armies of the French Emperor Napoleon.

Nelson died at the height of the battle. So it was his second in command, Vice Admiral Cuthbert
Collingwood, who wrote the official account of the battle - the "Trafalgar Dispatch."


"The spirit which animated all was the same."
(Vice Admiral Collingwood's Dispatch, 22 October 1805)

In his Dispatch, Collingwood paid moving tribute to Nelson and said that "his name will
be immortal and his memory ever dear to his Country".


Collingwood also described the courage and devotion displayed by all his men and emphasised
that "Every individual appeared an hero." They came from all over Britain, and from overseas as well.



"May humanity after Victory, be the predominant feature in the British fleet"
(Nelson's prayer before battle, 21 October 1805)

Collingwood and his men shared Nelson's commitment to humanity. When, after the battle,
a great storm hit the opposing fleets off Cape Trafalgar, nationality was forgotten
as all the sailors strove to save the lives of their brothers.


[from (no longer online)
however an archived version is available]

Historical facts

On 21st October 1805 the Royal Navy decisively defeated a combined French and Spanish fleet off Cape Trafalgar on the South West coast of Spain. This victory permanently removed the threat of invasion of England by the armies of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Viscount Admiral Lord Nelson died at the height of the Battle of Trafalgar and it fell to his second in command, Vice Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood to write the official account (dispatch). The Commanding Officer of HM Schooner Pickle, Lieutenant John Lapenotiere, was given the task of delivering the news. He had orders to proceed with all speed and deliver the dispatch personally to the Secretary of the Navy at the Admiralty in London.

Lieutenant Lapenotiere set sail from Cape Trafalgar for England. However, because of adverse weather conditions, he came ashore at Falmouth in Cornwall on 4th November 1805 and travelled the rest of the journey overland by Post Chaise to London along the A30.

The poste chaise made 21 stops at coaching inns to change horses during the 271 mile 37 hour journey (Truro, Fraddon, Bodmin, Launceston, Okehampton, Crockernwell, Exeter, Honiton, Axminster, Bridport, Dorchester, Blandford Forum, Woodyates, Salisbury, Andover, Overton, Basingstoke, Hartfordbridge, Bagshot, Staines and Hounslow). The change at Bagshot late on 5th November cost one pound twelve shillings (£1.60).

Lieutenant Lapenotiere delivered his dispatches to the Admiralty at 1 am on 6th November - more than two weeks after the battle - but an exceptionally rapid journey for those days! The news was urgently passed to the Prime Minister and special newspapers were printed to inform the nation. He was later followed by further messengers and altogether over 600 horses were used on the same route to bring news of Trafalgar to the nation.

Two hundred years later, the New Trafalgar Dispatch celebrates Nelson’s memory and all the heroes at the battle, which was a defining moment in British history


Lapenotiere was a descendant of a Huguenot refugee family that came to England in 1688 and settled in Devon. Prior to Trafalgar the highpoints of his career were two circumnavigations of the globe, one with Captain William Bligh on his second expedition to collect breadfruit trees from the Pacific. He was promoted lieutenant in 1794 and took command of HM Schooner Pickle in 1802. His delivery of the Collingwood dispatch earned him promotion to commander, a Lloyd’s Patriotic Fund Sword and a £500 bounty. He retired as a captain in 1811, and died 23 years later at Menheniot in Cornwall, where he is buried.

Nelson's association with Bagshot

Nelson was no stranger to Bagshot and is reported to have stayed at Hallgrove (now Hallgrove School) and and to have planted a beech tree, that still stands today, near Beech House (on what is now Church Road).

Nick Bell writes:

I am a member of the Nelson Society of Australia and at our 'Pickle Night' Dinner in 2005 I had the honour of playing the role of Lt Lapenotier on his journey from Falmouth to the Admiralty. During the progress of the dinner I advanced a model of HMS Pickle around the table pausing to announce the names of all of the staging posts along the Trafalgar Way. ref 633.0206
Phil wrote in 2014 that a replica of HM Schooner Pickle was made for the 2005 celebrations. It subsequently fell into disrepair until being bought by its present owners, who, at the time of writing, were bringing it back to England for restoration. [Oct 14]

Subesquent reports indicate that it has been restored.  See

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