During the third week of August 2005 the Trafalgar Way was officially inaugurated in Devon to commemorate the bi-centenary of the Battle of Trafalgar.
The Lorna Doone, an original North Devon stagecoach visited inns and hostels along the full length of what is now know as the Trafalgar Way in Devon.
During this time an actor playing the part of Lieutenant John Richard Lapenotiere delivered a New Trafalgar Dispatch. Each town in Devon that he passed through has unveiled a commemorative plaque to mark the occasion.
Lapenotiere, captain of HMS Pickle, travelled by post chaise, the equivalent of a taxi 200 years ago and the fastest means of public transport available at the time.
It took about six weeks from 21st October 1805 for the full news of the victory and the death of Admiral Horatio Nelson to filter through to London and the people of England.
Nelson and his fleet defeated the combined armies of France and Spain off the Spanish coast near Cape Trafalgar. Amongst the men in the English fleet were 1,115 men from Devon, more than from any other county.
Lapenotiere was the first messenger to reach Falmouth with the news. He passed quickly through Cornwall and entered Devon at Lifton. Pausing only to change horses at Okehampton, Crockernwell, Exeter, Honiton and Axminster he travelled on to London.
Each messenger who followed had more details of the Battle of Trafalgar in the dispatches they carried. Following in the steps of Lieutenant Lapenotiere hundreds of horses were used to carry the news.
Trewman's Exeter Flying Post, the local newspaper, contains full details of the contents of the dispatches as they became available. Microfilm copies are available at the Devon Record Office or online at their website.
This article may be freely reproduced with the following resource box and must include a live link:
Lesley Pinkett lives and works in East Devon and is the owner of http://www.east-devon-guide.com/ which is packed with information about this beautiful corner of England.
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