Madron & Trafalgar
Many will be aware that the Battle of Trafalgar is one of Britain’s most famous wartime victories, fought against the combined French and Spanish fleets in 1805.
During the battle, on the 21st October, the British fleet of ships was commanded by Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson who was aged 46.
As the two fleets drew close to each other, the tension mounted, and aboard HMS ‘Victory’ it was the time Nelson ordered his famous message ‘England expects…’ to be hoisted.
Sadly, as the glorious victory was achieved, he received a fatal wound from an enemy marksman.
After the battle, a topsail schooner HMS ‘Pickle’, under its captain Lieutenant Lapenotiere, set sail from Trafalgar for Falmouth to dispatch the traqic news.
At the time of his death Horatio Nelson was aged 46
The Nelson Banner
However, it passed fishermen in Mount’s Bay who were told of Lord Nelson’s death, and they immediately made for Penzance.
It was only a short distance from the shore to the Assembly Rooms (now the Union Hotel) in Chapel Street, and legend has it that Mayor Giddy was banqueting there.
He right away delivered the shattering news from the minstrel gallery and also led a procession to Madron Parish Church (the Mother Church of Penzance), where a memorial service took place and the Nelson Banner was paraded for the first time.
The verse on the banner reads:
‘Mourn for the Brave, the immortal Nelson’s gone, His last Sea fight is fought, his work of Glory done’.
Keen to again hold a memorial service, it was in 1946 that a former naval chaplain and the then vicar of Madron, the Reverend Michael Hocking had the idea of instigating what has become an annual Trafalgar Day commemoration.
At the service held on the 27th October 1946, so many wished to attend that it had to be relayed outside, while recordings were made by the BBC.
For many years the event has taken place on the Sunday nearest to the 21st October, with civic dignitaries and naval personnel past and present still marching through the village.
A band plays, salutes are taken and everyone present honours one of England’s most popular heroes.
Michael Hocking pictured in Madron Church
Taking the salute outside of Landithy Hall – circa 1975
It was towed to Gibraltar for repairs before then carrying Lord Nelson’s preserved body to England where, after lying in state at Greenwich, he was buried at St. Paul’s Cathedral on the 9th January 1806.