Tuesday, 3 September 2013



Above the doorway of the Royal Oak pub in the centre of Fishguard in Wales are the words   
Last invasion of Britain peace treaty was signed here here in 1797.’

It refers to the last landing of a foreign army on British soil which occurred during the Napoleonic Wars. In 1797 a force of 1,400 men was put ashore at nearby Carregwastad Point with ambitious orders to march north through Wales to take and burn the port of Liverpool. Half soldiers, half released  jail prisoners were under the command of an Irish-American named Colonel Tate. They were immediately attacked by a mixed force of yeomanry and villagers including women, and in two days their surrender was accepted. The French invasion force was lined up on Goodwin Sands and Colonel Tate signed a surrender document in the presence of British commander Earl Cawdor at the Royal Oak. The table on which this took place can be still seen inside the pub.

During the Napoleonic Wars, the 12th Earl of Cassillis of Culzean Castle on the Ayrshire coast, was well prepared for a possible invasion.  He constructed gun emplacements on a rampart near the castle.  11 six pounder cannons could fire cannon balls up to 2 miles distance.  They are still intact being the only Battery of their type remaining in Britain.


At the beginning of the 19th century it was thought that a likely point of possible invasion by Napoleon’s Army was at Romney Marsh and as a result a unique defensive canal was built as a third line of defence after the Royal Navy and a line of 74 Martello Towers along the coast. Construction began at Seabrook near Hythe in Kent in 1804 and was competed in 1809 at a total cost of £234,000. It runs for 28 miles to Cliff end near Hastings. A Royal Military Road constructed parallel to the canal with an earth parapet 13 feet high had field guns positioned every 600 yards which as a whole formed an impressive defensive structure.
 The Royal Military canal
The canal is still well maintained being an important environmental site for the control of water levels in the area.  



The Trafalgar was inaugurated in 2005 when the Princess Royal unveiled a plaque at Falmouth in Cornwall to launch a series of events along the Way, each one marked by a similar plaque.

The Trafalgar Way is the historic route used to carry dispatches, with news of the Battle of Trafalgar, overland from Falmouth to The Admiralty in London.
In 1805, Lt. Lapenotiere of HMS Schooner Pickle reached Falmouth on 4th November enduring bad weather. He then continued by express post-chaise to London with 21 stops to change horses on the 37 hour 271 miles journey. At the Admiralty he delivered the news of the decisive defeat of the combined French and Spanish fleet off Cape Trafalgar and the death in action of Vice Admiral Lord Nelson. The news was immediately passed on to the Prime Minister and the King.

The victory removed the threat of an invasion of England by the armies of Napoleon Boneparte


This plaque on a building in Lemon Street at Truro marks the fist post-horse change.

What is said to be the only equestrian statue  in an English church can be seen in St Luke’s church at Gaddesby in Leicestershire.   The 1848 statue, by Joseph Gott, of Colonel Edward Hawkins Cheney and his horse, is a life size sculptured monument depicting Col. Cheney of the Royal Scots Greys, who fought in the battle of Waterloo on June 18th 1815.   He had four horses killed under him and rode off on a fifth horse when command of the regiment devolved upon him.  

At the base a panel shows Col. Cheney in hand to hand combat with a French officer who was trying to recapture a lost Napoleonic eagle.   

The story goes that Gott, on completing the statue, realized that he had left out the tongue of the ‘in extremis’ horse and in despair he committed suicide.




A gravestone situated just outside the door of the church at Studland near Swanage in Dorset tells, on one side, the remarkable story of Sgt William Lawrence, who saw active service with the 40th Regiment of Foot for some ten years.  He fought against the Spanish in South America in 1805 and then fought in most of Wellington’s battles in the Peninsular War.   He was severely wounded at the storming of Badajos, but recovered sufficiently to take part in the decisive battle of Vittoria.  He advanced with Wellington into France and fought in the ‘glorious battle’ of Waterloo.   He was awarded the silver medal and no less than ten clasps.  William ended up in Paris during the Allies occupation.

The other side of the stone simply reads:

CLOTILDE  LAWRENCE, St Germain-en-Laye (France),

Decedee a Studland Le 26 September 1853.

William had married Clotilde Clairet in France and brought her home to his native Studland where they kept a small inn.  When William died in 1869, his wish for a military funeral was respected and volunteers fired a farewell volley over the grave of this brave man.


A gravestone in Utley Cemetery at Keighley in West Yorkshire tells us that it is in memory of :


‘Christopher Ingham landlord of the Reservoir Tavern, Keighley,

who died September 1866 in the 80th year of his age.

He was one of the heroes of the Peninsular War having served in the

95th Regiment of Foot for which he received the silver medal with clasps

for the engagements at Toulouse etc. He also received the

Wellington Medal for Waterloo dated June 15th 1815.



Known as Sharpe’s Grave, because it is thought that Bernard Cornwell used Ingham’s life as the basis for his ‘Sharpe’ novels.     The Reservoir Tavern still exists in West Lane at Keighley.




In the churchyard of the parish church at Thornton-le-Dale near Pickering in North Yorkshire, is a gravestone which was restored in 1939 by the Lancashire Fusiliers.  It tells an interesting story :

‘ In memory of Mathew Grimes, who died October 30 1875, aged 96 years.

An old Soldier who served with the 20th and 24th Infantry

 in India and Peninsular Wars

Guard at St Helena over Napoleon and a bearer of that Monarch to his grave.

This monument is erected by admiring friends of an old veteran.






No comments: