Trafalgar, Word of Mouth

Trafalgar to legend by ‘Word of Mouth’, according to Cornish legend the Trafalgar news was first announced in Penzance.

Sailing Cape Trafalgar to Falmouth, England, HMS Pickle is racing with the Official Trafalgar Dispatch.

A fine painting based upon the ship’s log and celebrating a Cornish oral tradition which is denied by some academics.

“Word of mouth”.

"Trafalgar, Word of Mouth", 62 x 48 cm (24½" x 19"), £7,750 (about $9,900) by Gordon Frickers.

A fine painting based upon the ship’s log and celebrating a Cornish oral tradition which is denied by some academics.

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Any reputable gallery would be delighted to offer this painting for this price it is an investment that will never date, it’s already probably worth double …

Many as yet to be exhibited in public, ‘Nelson and Trafalgar’ series, a great opportunity for a gallery, agent and investors looking for timeless fine art.

Marine art for sea orientated people, a timeless painting, a pleasure every time you see it upon your wall.

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This Trafalgar painting 

Early on in the morning of the 4 th of November 1805 according to her official log book, now in the Pubic Records Office at Kew, London, the schooner HMS Pickle was crossing Mount’s Bay Cornwall, carrying the official Trafalgar Dispatch.

What is not in the official record is that she was, according to local oral tradition, and still celebrated every year, sailing herself into a Cornish legend.

HMS Pickle
Word of mouth, a detail of the painting.

Scholarly Doubts

Scholars are on record as saying they doubt the story is true.

In my experience scholars, academics, are a bit like scientists in that they like to think they know the answers and have everything categorised in neat ‘boxes’.

Real life isn’t like that !!!

It is said with pride in West Cornwall to this day, Pickle’s men spoke the epic Nelson and Trafalgar news to local fishermen as HMS Pickle coasted across Mounts Bay.

We know from her log book she was driven by a light South westerly breeze, with all sail set even her steering and ring-tail sails, into the sunrise racing to reach her home port of Plymouth.

Realising the momentous event was exciting news, the boats stopped fishing and immediately sailed for their home shore.

Thus the first place in England to ‘officially announce’ that Napoleon’s invasion was not going to happen and to confirm the near annihilation of the dreaded Combined Fleet and the truly heroic death of Nelson was in West Cornwall.

HMS Pickle
Word of mouth, passing THE news, Mounts Bay a detail.

Cornish tradition

Cornish tradition asks us to believe that the Mayor announced the news from the musician’s gallery in the Assembly Rooms at the Union Hotel, still an hotel today in Penzance.

Despite academic doubters, the event is still celebrated in west Cornwall, every year.

A true legend?

We know from documentation HMS Pickle was based at nearby Plymouth, that she regularly patrolled Cornish waters when not employed as a dispatch vessel or on duties for Nelson.

Pickle experienced several chases and engagements with French privateers on that station.

Cornish fishermen

To Cornish fishermen HMS Pickle would have been a familiar sight.

From newspapers and gossip, the Cornishmen are likely to have known Pickle was away with Nelson’s fleet, she being one of his hard worked scouts and a fast dispatch vessel.

They would certainly have known a great sea fight was very likely soon.

The crew list suggests much of her crew including her commander were Cornish and Devon men.

Cornwall is now as it was then, one big family, some Pickle crew had probably sung, drank and laughed as sailor men do, with the men fishing that morning in Mounts Bay.

Furthermore, at any wartime dawn the fisher folk would undoubtedly kept a sharp look out and not just for the new day.

What do you make of this salty yarn ?

Having sailed this waters for many years and lived, worked and played among the people of West Cornwall, I have little doubt the story is true.

HMS Pickle
‘Word of Mouth’, passing THE Nelson and Trafalgar news, a detail …

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Further reading:  Background history, images and the development of this painting.

Do you as I do, like very much the story behind the picture?
For sure it’s worth the money if only as an “after dinner subject !

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Gordon Frickers © updated 10.12.2021

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This Gordon Frickers art signature is on all my more recent paintings.