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Trafalgar Way & Pickle Night

Greyhound Inn, Blandford was the twelfth stop for Lieutenant John Richards Lapenotiere during his express dash from Falmouth to the Admiralty in London. His purpose was to tell both the King and the Prime Minister of Nelson’s victory over the French & Spanish at the Battle of Trafalgar but also of Horatio Nelson's death. This route is now known as the ‘Trafalgar Way’.

Lapenotiere  arrived in Blandford around lunchtime on the 5th November 1805 and paid just two pounds ten shillings & sixpence (£2.52) for a change of horses. This he would do 21 times during the 271 mile journey. A plaque commemorating his arrival in Blandford can be found in the Greyhound Yard.   He was travelling in a ‘post-chaise’ which was the quickest form of horse travel for a passenger at the time. Before Blandford, he had stopped and changed horses at both Bridport and Dorchester. The next stop would be Woodyates and then Salisbury. That day was the 200th anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament so as he travelled on that evening he would have witnessed many bonfires.

Lapenotiere had journeyed from the battle scene across the particularly stormy Bay of Biscay in the strangely named HMS Pickle. She was a small but fast schooner that had been present at but had not taken part in the Battle of Trafalgar.

Lieutenant John Richards Lapenotiere arrived at the Admiralty at 1.00am on the 6th November 1805 completing the journey in around 38 hours.

Warrant Officers and Senior Ratings in the British Navy hold Pickle Nights on or around 5th November to celebrate Lapenotiere’s historic express journey. This includes dressing up in the uniform of the times, eating off a single plate, singing sea shanties and drinking rum and beer. HMS Pickle was indeed a strange name for a British fighting vessel of the time and it is said the vessel gained this name as a result of an administrative error!

A vessel originally built is St Petersburg was converted into a replica of HMS Pickle for the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar.
(Illustration: Modern day HMS Pickle replica)


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