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New in Print today !

HMS_Pickle_approaching_The_Lizard_IMG_3436_d.JPG“The Trafalgar Dispatch” –   HMS Pickle, a charming calm new picture now available in print of the Royal Navy’s most famous ‘little ship’, distinguished as the ‘Trafalgar Messenger‘, the vessel that race the Trafalgar Dispatch to England.

This new picture sub titled ‘HMS Pickle the Trafalgar messenger approaching The Lizard‘  will make a fine pair with one of our most popular prints “I Have Urgent Dispatches“.

The new picture full title “The Trafalgar Dispatch”  ‘HMS Pickle the Trafalgar messenger approaching The Lizard‘  is now officially launched in print in a new guise and following some ground breaking research.

Not yet illustrated on the web site, You can order your copy from our Payment Page

I have just noticed I used ‘despatch’ on the first 5 prints not ‘dispatch’…

The Oxford dictionary gives ‘despatch’ as a variant spelling of dispatch.

Previously I’d used ‘dispatch’ on the print “I have urgent dispatches” – “H.M. Schooner “Pickle”, carrying the news of the Battle of Trafalgar“.

‘De’ – I think I’ve been living in France to long and French is effecting my spelling !

Thanks to the wonders of digital printing we can easily alter this for the next copies while I suppose this makes the first 5 (3 already spoken for)  more ‘collectable’!


Further reading…


News of the battle of Trafalgar

Pickle, a Plymouth

The artist wrote

A sailor’s yarn – Could this be true?

About this Pickle painting:

Credits due

The new picture has in part been painted following requests for a picture of HMS Pickle in calmer weather.

Winner of a dramatic race, H.M. Schooner “Pickle“, carried the Trafalgar dispatch… hence this ‘full on’ marine painting  “HM Schooner Pickle approaching The Lizard Point.”


News of the battle of Trafalgar

In brief

The fact that the Trafalgar Dispatch was one of the biggest news events ever to reach British shores is these days old news but remains exciting history.


Napoleon had 300,000 trained men and a huge fleet of assault craft waiting on the North French coast intending to invade England much as William of Normandy had formally successfully done in 1066.

This painting and it’s near twin, “HMS Pickle off Mounts Bay” (not shown here)  are in part a reflection about communication, contrasting then (1805) and now.

In turn, HMS Pickle narrowly won a dramatic race to bring the Trafalgar dispatch to England and the to the First Sea Lord at the Admiralty House in London.

There are several details here not seen on any other representation of HMS Pickle which we now know existed and are discussed in the following texts.

Pickle, a
Plymouth ship on this occasion famously put into Falmouth.

Pickle is seen here at first light, 04.11.1805 shaping her course to approach The Lizard, the most Southerly point of and a classic landfall on the English coast and nessesary for Pickle to pass on her course to Falmouth.

A very human story inspired this picture.


Pickle is shown under full light weather sail including stunsails and ringtail; Pickle is ‘cutting along’, she is in a hurry!

In this serene painting there is a sense of excitement.

We witness men calling boat to boat as HMS Pickle glides past a group of Cornish fishing luggers. HMS_PIckle_approaching_the_Lizard__detail___IMG_3442_d.JPG


The original of this painting mounted in a beautiful hand made medium antique gold swept frame is currently ‘in storage’ at Plymouth however if you make an offer we can’t refuse it could become yours.

Payment can be made in easy stages bank to bank or using Paypal on our web site Payment Page with the picture being released following final payment.


This painting was conceived because over years subsequent to the painting of the popular and now renowned “I have urgent dispatches” a number of people asked for a picture of HMS Pickle the most famous of Royal Navy schooners in calm weather.



The artist wrote:
My intention is to show Pickle on her known course, on the calm hazy November morning of 04.11.05 as she ghosted under full sail across the Mounts Bay shaping her course for The Lizard (Most Southerly point of the British mainland) then onto Falmouth, Cornwall.

Why Falmouth not her home port  is another story.

We know Pickle regularly patrolled Cornish waters between 1802 and 1805.

Pickle had destinguished herself several times during those years so would have been ‘known’ to the men of Mounts Bay where it is locally proudly claimed the then sensational Trafalgar news was first announced in England.

Pickle was a Plymouth ship and often worked Cornish waters including fighting several sharp actions with French privateers.


A sailor’s yarn – Could this be true?

This picture illustrates a tale denied by some academics.

A very human story inspired this picture.


We can reasonably assume that any fishing boats off the Cornish Coast in time of war would be keeping a fair look out particularly at dawn the classic time for surprise attack so would have quickly seen Pickle.


It is very likely the fishermen would have recognised Pickle because being a Plymouth based ship Pickle had often patrolled those waters. It is further likely the fishermen would have known from local papers Pickle had been with Nelson so would guess was probably carrying news from Nelson’s fleet.

Many of Pickle’s crew including her commander Lt. Lapenotiere were Cornish and Devon men although unusually, her first officer was an American.

Among the ‘cousin Jack’s’ in the various vessels there may even have been relatives or brothers.


In the far West of Cornwall, Penzance, it is claimed the first announcement was made and is celebrated to the present day of the momentous news of the saving of Britain from the very serious threat of invasion by Napoleon’s armada by the victory at the battle of Trafalgar.

The local story says crew of HM Schooner Pickle spoke with local fishermen who appreciating the importance of the Trafalgar news immediately stopped fishing and sailed to Penzance.

Indecently the first place the news of the battle of Trafalgar appeared in print was at Plymouth, HMS Pickle’s home port.


We know from the surviving log of HMS Pickle she had a very rough passage through October storms in the tempestuous Bay of Biscay, as illustrated in “I have urgent dispatches”.

We have her course made good for the voyage and know that early in the morning of the 4th of November 1805 HMS Pickle was crossing Mounts Bay approaching The Lizard (Most Southerly point of the British mainland).

Thus the artist, on the balance of probabilities, having sailed those waters and lived with Cornishmen concluded the incident and subject well worth recording.


“I have urgent dispatches” has appeared in several books, as a signed numbered print has sold well, at the time of writing we still have some copies available.

The original of I have urgent dispatches (larger than this painting) is owned by a London based company and the last time we heard from them is to be offered for sale, they are looking to a 6 figure offer.


About this Pickle painting:

The moment shown here is approximately dawn, 4th of November 1805

HMS Pickle is shaping her course for The Lizard and Falmouth.

Pickle is off Mounts bay as navigators would note from the shape of the coast and the distinctive sight of Saint Michael’s Mount just off the coastline in the background.

We know from Pickle‘s log book it was a fine calm morning of light airs from the South West.

HM Schooner Pickle as represented here shows the results of the latest research into her appearance.

Pickle is shown under full light weather sail including stunsails and ringtail; Pickle is ‘cutting along’, she is in a hurry!

Following very recent research these 2 paintings probably represents HMS Pickle more accurately than any painting since Robert Dodd’s coloured aquatint engraving which may have been supervised by Lt. Lapenotiere.

A suggestion of Anne Maddever, a descendant of Lt. Lapenotiere has been followed, to show the Popham’s code “I have urgent dispatches” signal flying.

I have also sneaked in a St Piran’s cross just in case people don’t recognise St Michael’s Mount and the Cornish coast in the background.


This new picture is painted intended as a pair with the print of the already renowned “I have urgent dispatches” (http://www.frickers.co.uk/marine-art/urgent_dispatches.html) so will be reproduced ‘same size, heritage quality.

You can order a copy securely online from page http://www.frickers.co.uk/blog/information-pages/making-a-payment/ or contact us for guidance.

Print No 1 of I have urgent dispatches was presented t the Princess Royal, Princess Anne by the officers of HMS Seahawk.

This original and the working sketches are open to offers.


Points of note:

You will have noticed this painting is rich in detail, here follows some of the more unusual points to note.

HM Schooner Pickle – The ‘Nelson’s yellow strake. This exact colour results from new research by Peter Goodwin and Gordon Frickers. Peter found a letter from Nelson specifying the exact mix for the famous Nelson bright yellow. Gordon carried out a series colour of tests and “Nelson at Gibraltar” has been the first full scale painting to benefit. Nelson’s bright yellow was confirmed by Gordon at H.M. Hydrographic office, Taunton where he saw very accurate original large colour watercolours made as navigational aids which have never been displayed so are unaffected by fade or chemical change.

Painted by Serres while at sea with the Royal Navy as official marine artist to King George III.

Very unusually Pickle had a thin tapered black strake in her yellow strake.

The proportion of her lofty rig which may seem exagerated to modern eyes can be seen in a Dodd engraving of the battle of Trafalgar which was probably supervised by Lt. Lapenotiere soon after his arrival in London, Dodd’s studio being very near Admiralty House and much fequented by naval officers and is confirmed by other information about British, Ameriacn and French schooners of the period.

A glimpse can be had of Pickle’s copper bottom. Readers may recall from further reading on page http://www.frickers.co.uk/blog/2006/11/22/useful-facts-excellent-stories-about-hm-schooner-pickle-carrying-the-news-of-the-battle-of-trafalgar/#more-995 she was purchased by Admiral Lord Hugh Seymour, C in C Jamaica in December 1800, the Sting as she was then known was described as a ‘clever, fast schooner, coppered’.

Not all Pickle’s guns are shown.

We know Pickle dumped six of her guns overboard on passage while in great danger in a Biscay storm.

A rare dockyard report dated 1803 written when Pickle was given a middling overhaul at Devonport (Plymouth) Dockyard and researched by Peter Goodwin records her gunwale was curved above the gun ports as shown here, a detail not shown on the Dodd picture.

This feature nessesary if her carronades were to be fully elevated was shared with some other small ships of the period.

A detail not shown is her figure head.

The schooner Pickle  ‘replica’ (I use the term replica in this context rather as Greek tourist souvenirs are described as exact copies of ancient artifacts…) that appeared in 2005 carried an over-sized white figurehead.

There is no contemory dockyard of painting evidence of  Pickle having had a figurehead.

In fact the Dodd painting shows her with out a figure head of any sort on her stem.

This would be normal for a vessel of her type and worth, figure heads were expensive so rare on shall craft like schooners.

Thuse this is probably the most accurate rending of HM Schooner Pickle since living memory.


Cornish Luggers:

In this painting there is a sense of excitement. We witness men calling boat to boat, one lugger is putting up her helm to speak having has sailed to intercept Pickle, another is over hastily, clumsily raising sail.


In 1805 luggers differed a little from modern luggers the principal difference being 3 masts and a fuller hull shape for less speed more carrying capacity and more sea worthy.

Many French ‘Chasse Marie’ (sea hunters) still set 3 masts with topsails as in the early 19th century style. The city of Brest traditional boat festival is probably the best place to see for yourself.

Most Cornish luggers were around 35 feet length between verticals so about 40 feet length on deck.

Some were smaller some as large as 90 feet overall on deck.


We know that Cornish luggers at that period worked in teams of 3 boats.

We know the luggers were generally about 40 feet long, carried 3 masts and were of a fuller hull shape than the rare examples of the luggers one sees today.

Spirit of Mystery, the renowned lugger Pete Goss famously sailed to Australia in 2009 is a good example of the older hull shape although she sets only 2 masts as per the more modern luggers


Mike Hope wrote and kindly gave his permission for the following text to appear here:

As you know there has, and always will be, controversy between Penzance and Falmouth over the “Trafalgar dispatch”; but it is a well known fact that Pickle passed by Mounts Bay, and there are artifacts present in Madron Church and the Union Hotel in Chapel Street Penzance that indicate that a fishing vessel communicated the news first from Pickle to Penzance.

The luggers of West Cornwall changed their rig around the 1840’s from three to two masted.

This new yacht style offered more speed to meet the introduction of the railways in 1853.

The best surviving example of the three masted luggers is a model of Emily on display in the County Museum at Truro; this is illustrated on page 65 of A. S, Oliver’s book “Boats and Boatbuilding in West Cornwall”.

The rigging is also shown on page 17 and of Boy Willie on page 34.

Another invaluable source is Edgar March’s book “Sailing Drifters”, but I think the former has all the information.

The one person who knows absolutely everything about luggers is the historian Tony Pawlyn, a trustee of the National Maritime Museum Cornwall at Falmouth; http://www.swmaritime.org.uk/contact.php?contactid=17

Another is Professor Jan Pentreath.


Credits due:

The distinguished author Peter Goodwin generously contributed new research information here.

Much guidance and assistance was freely and generously given researching the Cornish Mounts Bay luggers period 1805 shown here which are so much part of this story.

My thanks in particular to Bob Brennan, Mike Hope, Mike Halse, (a Mousehole man), Tony Pawlyn, Professor Jan Pentreath.



See also blog entry The great race, HMS Pickle, 16th April 2012



Related paintings in the Nelsonian series of The News of Trafalgar – HMS Pickle off Mounts Bay, Nelson’s Bright Yellow, and Nelson at Gibraltar.


(C) Gordon Frickers, Plymouth 04.09.2012