Broadstairs will take centre stage on Saturday June 20 for the 200th commemoration of the Battle of Waterloo.
There will be re-enactments with a horse-drawn post-chaise, a re-creation of Major Percy’s landing at Broadstairs, and a service of commemoration in Canterbury Cathedral.
On June 19, the 30-year old Major Percy who was Wellington’s only aide-de-camp to emerge unscathed from the battle, tucked the dispatch into a purple wallet and set off. He rode to Ghent, Bruges and Ostend where he boarded the Royal Navy sloop HMS Peruvian.
Halfway across the Channel, the wind dropped and Percy and his naval companions, including Peruvian’s captain James White, boarded a gig – a small boat – to row ashore, eventually landing at Broadstairs.
Percy then found a horse-drawn post-chase or carriage and rode through Canterbury, Faversham, Sittingbourne and Rochester, reaching London at 10pm on June 21. He first went to 10 Downing Street before going on to 44 Grosvenor Square where senior politicians in the Cabinet were having supper.
Launching the Waterloo 200 programme in Canterbury, historian and broadcaster Peter Snow, said:
“It’s a great idea to have Henry Percy come back with this message and for people to see it happen. I hope everyone will band together and enjoy the events. It’s very exciting. Kent played a vital part. It was a dreadful battle with huge bloodshed. If there is one moment in history – other than the defeat of Hitler – that every citizen should be encouraged to commemorate, it’s the day the Battle of Waterloo decided the shape of our continent for a hundred years.”
The Lord Lieutenant of Kent Viscount De L’Isle said:
“I hope members of the public will turn out in big numbers to support these events that promise a fascinating insight into this famous battle and the historic ride of the Waterloo Dispatch through Kent and Medway.”