Madron, near Penzance

The Trafalgar and Nelson Remembrance ceremony marks the moment in history when Penzance received highly important news by sea.

Trafalgar Day Parade in Madron in the 1970s
The Trafalgar Day Parade in Madron, c1970s Reproduced courtesy of Andrew Besley as featured on cornishmemory.com
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The Battle of Trafalgar is one of Britain’s most famous wartime victories, fought against France in 1805. During the battle, the British fleet of ships was commanded by Admiral Lord Nelson, one of the best-known military leaders in British history. However, while fighting, Nelson was killed by a French sniper. 

After the battle, a ship called 'The Pickle' was sent back to Falmouth with the news. On the way, it passed fishermen in Mount’s Bay, near Penzance, who heard about the death of Lord Nelson. At the time, the Mayor and council of Penzance were having dinner in the Union Hotel. When they heard the news, the mayor made a speech from the balcony to announce the death of this popular leader. 

Royal Navy band in the Trafalgar Day Parade in Madron
The Royal Navy band in the Trafalgar Day Parade, Madron, c1970s
Reproduced courtesy of Andrew Besley as featured on cornishmemory.com

The people of Penzance made a special banner which they carried in a procession to the Parish Church in Madron. The banner read “Mourn the brave, the immortal Nelson’s gone, his last sea fight is fought, his work of glory done”. Every year people meet in Madron Church to hold a special service to remember Trafalgar and Lord Nelson. 

There is one very strange legend associated with this story. It is said that after his death Nelson’s body was placed in a barrel of brandy to preserve it, very much like pickling. However, some of the sailors on board the ship took brandy from the barrel to drink! Even today, drinking spirits like brandy through a straw is known in the Royal Navy as “tapping the Admiral”.



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