A View From The Fighting Tops

A Georgian Era history blog

Phillip Broke, Trincomalee and a strange affair in South America

I’m rubbish at this blogging thing, there’s always something else to do!


HMS Trincomalee, Hartlepool Historic Quay

That aside,I have a task to do. In December, The Friends of HMS Trincomalee, of which I’m one of seven trustees were successful in appointing our first Patron, Lord Eric De Saumarez, who is a direct descendant of Sir James Saumarez, First Baron De Saumarez, one of Nelsons “Band of Brothers” from the Battle of the Nile in 1798 and commander in Chief in the Baltic from 1808-1812.


James Saumarez, 1st Baron De Saumarez


A nephew of the first Lord De Saumarez served as a young  Lieutenant aboard HMS Trincomalee during the ships second commission.

In a strange quirk of fate, I have been reading about Philip Vere Broke, of Shannon vs Chesapeake fame.

shannon ches

The action between Shannon and Chesapeake during The War of 1812

In the course of reading I discovered a tenuous link between Broke, Saumarez, HMS Trincomalee and one of Trincomalees sea officers,Sir Lambton Loraine.


Philip Vere Broke, Captain, HMS Shannon

In 1882, The 4th Baron De Saumarez, (our Patrons great grandfather) married Jane Anne Vere Broke (grand daughter of Philip Vere Broke) becoming Lady De Saumarez.

Following the marriage into the Saumarez family came Shrublands Hall in Suffolk (famous for being the health spa visited by James Bond in “Thunderball”).

So there is one connection. Now a second.

The sister of Lady De Saumarez, Frederica Mary Horatia Vere Broke  (theres a name!) married Sir Lambton Loraine, 11th Baronet of Kirk Harle, in Northumberland.

(c) National Maritime Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
(c) National Maritime Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Lambton Loraine, 11th Baronet of Kirk Harle,Northumberland.

The final connection? Sir Lambton Loraine had served as a Midshipman in Trincomalee during the second commission.

Sir Lambton Loraine later became famous during the Virginius incident in 1873.

Funny how things connect together, isnt it…. I wonder what the conversations between Loraine and young Saumarez would have been like…. at that stage they were unrelated. If only they knew what the future was going to bring.





























A Summer of Loopholes, Conway and Martello Towers

As a second post, I spent the summer researching Loophole and Martello Towers on the South coast of England and in Jersey.Loophole (Conway) towers in Jersey were constructed in the Channel Islands  from around 1778-1779, a time when Britain’s attention was occupied by the rebellious American colonies. In the late 1770s France decided to enter the conflict on the American side (surprise). This left the Channel Islands particularly exposed and so a period of re fortification began, in order to protect coastal areas from landings.

Loophole (Conway in Jersey, after Seymour Conway, the Governor of the island) towers were built close to existing batteries. They were primarily designed to offer protection to existing batteries and to house an officer and about 20 men. The sides of the towers were pierced with loopholes for musketry.Some examples can be seen below:


This first tower is at Platte Rocque on Jersey, close to the spot where a French landing was made in early 1780.  The famous battle of Jersey was then fought, the tower being built later. Talk about closing the stable door after the horse has bolted….


This second tower is one of the first built in the north of the island, at Greve De Lecq. The loopholes are obvious.

This third tower is one of a number which run along the beach at Grouville, close to the Royal Golf Club, where Bergeracs Charlie Hungerford played many of his rounds…. it is now a completed house conversion.


These next photos are of the Kempt and Lewis Towers. These are later “Martello” towers located on the west coast.














A long voyage and welcome return

Four long years ago I set up this blog page as a receptacle for my thoughts and ramblings on all manor of history related topics, though mainly topics with a naval or nautical connection. Work, life and moving house then got in the way and many things fell by the wayside, among them this page. I guess that happens to most people at one point or another.

Now, after a lengthy absence, I’m back and my intention is to pick off from where I left off.

So, a refresher. I’m a full time Technical Sales Manager for a specialist engineering company based in the North-East of England. This means that I travel the UK, visiting clients and potential clients, assessing potential project requirements, quantifying them and costing them then hopefully winning the contract.  My interest is in the Napoleonic era Royal Navy. I collect antiquarian books on the subject and am a charity trustee for the “Friends of HMS Trincomalee”. As a trustee I am proud to say I helped successfully negotiate a Patron for the Friends, who is Lord Eric De Saumarez,  descendant of Admiral Sir James Saumarez. I also have an interest in period cookery and do a lot of swimming.

Most of my holidays are also history related. Last Summer I spent a week in both Jersey and Malta, researching coastal fortifications for a voluntary history lecture. I will post some photos of towers shortly. From time to time you might also see some antique books and other malarky!

See you all soon!