Monday, 29 June 2015

The New Waterloo Dispatch

It would appear that the 'New Waterloo Dispatch' is probably one of the least well-publicized events staged to mark the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo, and I suspect that I was not almost ignoring it completely. For those of you who also 'missed' it, here is some background information about the Dispatch.

The 'New Waterloo Dispatch' was an event organised and paid for by Waterloo 200, the National Army Museum, Culture 24, and the Heritage Lottery Fund to celebrate the bicentenary of the arrival of the original dispatch sent by Wellington to London after the Battle of Waterloo. Two re-enactors – dressed as Major Percy and Commander James White RN, who accompanied the original dispatch – travelled from Waterloo to London (and several other sites along the way) in a replica horse-drawn post chaise. They took with them a copy of the 'New Waterloo Dispatch' ...

... and replicas of the two captured Imperial Eagles and Standards taken at Waterloo. The re-enactors then took part in ceremonies at the selected locations during which senior public figures and dignitaries were presented with the 'New Waterloo Dispatch'.

The Dispatch's itinerary was as follows:
  • Thursday, 18th June: Belgium: During the evening a formal ceremony was organized by the Belgian Government at the Wellington Museum, Waterloo, where the Duke of Wellington wrote his original dispatch. This marked the beginning of the Dispatch's journey to the UK.
  • Friday, 19th June: Belgium: During the morning the 'New Waterloo Dispatch' was presented to the Mayor of the City of Brussels and other dignitaries. This took place at Royal Army Museum, Brussels. This ceremony was also attended by descendants of those who took part in the battle. During the afternoon the post chaise carried the Dispatch to the Governor’s Residence, Bruges, where it was presented to the Governor. The post chaise then took the Dispatch to Ostend, where it was greeted by the Sea Cadet TS Royalist. Later that evening the Dispatch was taken aboard HMS Northumberland, which conveyed it overnight to Broadstairs, Kent. The Royalist and Northumberland were accompanied across the Channel by boats of the East India Club Yacht Squadron.
  • Saturday, 20th June: Kent: During the morning a cutter from TS Royalist disembarked the Dispatch, the Eagles and Standards, and 'Major Henry Percy' and 'Commander James White RN' on the beach at Broadstairs. The 'New Waterloo Dispatch' was then presented to the Mayor of Broadstairs, after which the post chaise took the Dispatch to Canterbury, Kent, where it was presented to the Lord Lieutenant for Kent. This was followed by a special Waterloo Service at Canterbury Cathedral, after which the post chaise, the Dispatch, and 'Major Henry Percy' and 'Commander James White RN' left for London.
  • Sunday, 21st June: London: At 10.00am the post chaise departed from the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, after the Dispatch had been presented to the Mayor of the Borough of Royal Greenwich. The post chaise then travelled through South London, and crossed the River Thames at Tower Bridge. The Dispatch was then presented to the Governor of the Tower of London, after which is was escorted by members of the Honourable Artillery Company Light Cavalry to Guildhall Yard, where the 'New Waterloo Dispatch' was presented to The Lord Mayor of London. During the afternoon the post chaise re-crossed the River Thames at Waterloo Bridge, and then back again across the river at Westminster Bridge. On reaching Whitehall and Horse Guards it was joined by a mounted escort of the Household Cavalry and a number of historic coaches. The convoy then proceeded up The Mall and Constitution Hill until it reached Hyde Park Corner, where the Dispatch was presented to members of the Wellesley family. It then resumed its journey via Park Lane and Grosvenor Square, where the 'New Waterloo Dispatch' was presented to the Lord Mayor of Westminster and The Duke of Westminster. From there it went down Regent Street to Waterloo Place, where it was presented to the Mayoralty of London and a number of foreign Ambassadors. The convoy then travelled to St James's Square, where the replica Eagles and Standards were laid at the feet of Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, on the steps of the East India Club. (The Club occupies the building where to original Waterloo Dispatch was presented to the Prince Regent.) The post chaise then joined the Waterloo Parade from Horse Guards Parade down The Mall. This parade included four European visiting bands (the Dutch Army Band, the Zurich Police Band, the Finnish Navy Band, and the French Artillery Band), several British military bands, and two hundred school children.
  • Saturday 27th June: Kent: During the day the post chaise, the Dispatch, and 'Major Henry Percy' and 'Commander James White RN' visited Faversham, Sittingbourne, and Rochester, where the 'New Waterloo Dispatch' was presented to local dignitaries.
  • Sunday 28th June: Kent: The post chaise, the Dispatch, and 'Major Henry Percy' and 'Commander James White RN' completed their epic journey when they presented the 'New Waterloo Dispatch' to The Lord Boyce, Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, at Walmer Castle.

We had hoped to see the 'New Waterloo Dispatch' whilst it was in Greenwich, but by the time we discovered what time it was leaving, we had missed it. We had already intended to visit Walmer Castle of Sunday, and we were very pleased when we discovered that the Dispatch was going to present there on Sunday afternoon.

The post chaise, the Dispatch, and 'Major Henry Percy' and 'Commander James White RN' arrived outside the entrance of Walmer Castle at 3.00pm ...

... and 'Major Henry Percy' and 'Commander James White RN' climbed out.

They then presented the Dispatch to The Lord Boyce, after which they carried the Eagles and Standards into the Castle.

The post chaise then left ...

... and the horses could finally look forward to a bit of a rest! (The horses were a pair of Gelderlanders, and they had shared the work of the previous week with another pair of horses.)

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