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|A little more detail......
Written by JulieW
(10/17/2008 8:20 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Wentworth's journey from Plymouth to Portsmouth (another long one, penned by Rae
The most famous journey made by post chaise (and four, or sometimes two horses) in JA's era was the journey undertaken by Lieutenant john Richards Lapontiere (an Englishman of Huguenot descent) who was entrusted by Vice Admiral Collingwood to deliver the First Dispatch of the news of the result of the Battle of Trafalgar and of course of Admiral Nelson's death to the Admiralty in London.
Here is a link to a plaque illustrating the route he took.
Time was, needless to say, of the essence.
So he took the fastest way possible- by hiring a series of post chaises and horses at stages along the route to London from Falmouth in Cornwall, travelling non stop. It would have normally have taken between 3 and 4 days to make the journey: he accomplished it in 37 hours.
In all he made 21 temporary stops to change horses and gain refreshment at coaching inns in Truro, Fraddon, Bodmin, Launceston, Okehampton, Crockernwell, Exeter, Honiton, Axminster, Bridport, Dorchester, Blandford Forum, Woodyates, Salisbury, Andover, Overton, Basingstoke, Hartfordbridge, Bagshot, Staines and Hounslow. At some stops he not only had to change horses but also transferred to another post chaise as different operators covered the various sections of the route. He would also have had to change drivers and postilions.
He also had to pay for food and drink along the way, but at least travelling in a chaise he could rest on the road.
It is not possible to identify individual inns in most of the places he passed through because Lapenotiere does not name which of the many possible inns he used.
However, he did leave a careful note of his expensses( its not certain if he used his own money and was reimbursed by the Admiralty or if he was advanced a sum of money to pay exenses along the way). This note is now safely conserved in the Admiralty Records and it is this note , together with detail form Cary's Itinerary of 1802 which have helped me to re-create his journey
The post chaise drive to London cost a total of £46 19s 1d, a very large sum of money in those days. In 1805 a Lieutenant’s pay was five shillings a day, or £91 5s a year, so he spent more than 6 months‘ pay on it. Good job he was on expenses. Of course, Wentworth's costs of his journey were his own to fund.
Collingwood had given Lapontiere the right to use his own discertion as to where he would land in England. It was orignally envisaged he would land at Plymouth but they encountered advers easterly winds which forced him to decide to land at Falmouth, in Cornwall . He was aware there were good coaching links to London from Falmouth . In fact the route he took was a main GPO (post office) route: packet boats contining mail and passengers left Falmouth weekly for Lisbon,America and the West Indies.(Cary's Itinerary(1802) pages 797-8)
Lapontiere arrived in Falmouth near to 12 noon on Monday 4th November and ended his journey at the Admiralty at 1am on the 6th November 1805, approx imaltey 37 hours later. Phew.
Here is teh route he took, the places he stopped at and teh amount of miles between each "stage". I've calculated the mileage from Carys 1802 Itinerary, and do note that old distances are used. A mile was made of 8 furlongs, and the monetary values are expressed in pounds, shillings and pence :
Falmouth-Truro: 11 miles, £1: 2 shilings: 6 pence
Truro to Fraddon: 18 miles, £2: 17 shillings
Fraddon to Bodmin : 14 miles :£1: 19 shillings
Bodmin to Launceston 21 miles : £3 : 6 shillings :6 pence
Launceston to Oakhampton: 17 miles : £3: 4 shillings
Oakhampton to Crockernwell: 11 miles £1:17 shilling: 6 pence
Crockernwell to Exeter: 11 miles 2 furlongs £1: 17 shillings :6 pence
Exeter to Honiton: 16 miles 3 furlongs £2:14 shilllings
Honiton to Axminster: 9 miles 4 furlongs£1:11 shillings :7 pence
Axminster to Bridport:12 miles 3 furlongs £1: 16 shillings :6 pence
Bridport to Dorchester:14 miles 6 furlongs £2 :14 shilligns and 6 pence
Dorchester to Blandford 16 miles 2 furlongs £2:10 shillings :6 pence
Blandford to Woodyates Inn : 12 miles 2 furlongs £2: 5 shillings
Woodyates inn to Salisbury: 10 miles 3 furlongs £1 :17 shillings : 6 pence
Salisbury to Andover: 17 miles 3 furlongs £2: 15 shillings
Andover to Overton:10 miles 3 furlongs £1:1 shilling 13 pence
Overton to Basingstoke: 7 miles 6 furlongs £1: 14 shillings
Basingstoke to Hartfordbridge 9 miles 7 furlongs £1:15 shillings 6 pence
Hartfordbridge to Bagshot 9 miles 2 furlongs £1 : 12 shillings
Bagshot to Staines 9 miles 4 furlongs:£1:17 shillings :6 pence
Stains to Houndslow 7 miles £1:14 shillings:6 pence
Houndslow to the Admiralty, London: 4 miles 3 furlongs £2:5 shillings.
Lapontiere's journey was approximately 270 miles.
Wentworth's journey in fact coincided a little with Lapontiere's. If we estimate he changed horses every 15 miles on average, he would be changing horse and chaises around 12 times in this journey. If we average the cost at £2 per 15 miles, we can see that Wentworth's mission would have cost him personally around £25 pounds, or slightly more. A not insignificant sum- and I think that it shows what a good friend he was to Benwick.
You might like to see these pictures from the 2005 receation of the Trafalgar Way, which is how Lapontiers's journey is no known. I saw the chaise and the actor playing Lapontiere arrive in Bridport when on holiday in Dorset with my family in the summerof 2005 (we also took part in the celbrations and fireworks held at Hardy's monument too).
Here is the post chaise:
and here is the actor playing Laponiter with his dispatches in his hand ;-)
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