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On Monday 21st October 1805 the Royal Navy defeated a combined French and Spanish fleet off Cape Trafalgar on the south west coast of Spain. This victory permanently removed the treat of invasion of England by the armies of Napoleon Bonaparte.
The first official dispatches with the momentous news of the victory, and the death in action of Vice Admiral Lord Nelson, were carried to England on board H.M. Schooner PICKLE by her captain Lieutenant John Richards Lapenotiere.
He landed at Falmouth on Monday 4th November 1805 and set out “express by post-chaise” for London, following what is now the Trafalgar Way. He took some 37 hours to cover to 271 mile journey, changing horses 21 times. The 18th change was made at the Whyte Lion ( grade II listed building )at Hartfordbridge on the evening of the 5th November at a cost of one pound fifteen shillings and sixpence.
Lapenotiere delivered his dispatches to the Admiralty at 1am on Wednesday 6th November . The news was at once passed to the Prime Minister and the King, and special editions of newspapers were published later the same day to inform the nation.
A plaque to this effect is erected at the Whyte Lion, Hartfordbridge in recognition of this and to honour the men of Hampshire who fought for their country at Trafalgar.