Reply To: French flag at Nelson’s Funeral

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Malcolm Lewis

    I have discussed this query with Susan Amos co-author of ‘How to bury a national hero’, (Susan Amos and Louis Raeder pub 2020). In their researches they did not find mention of the French ensign displayed in the dome of St Paul’s. It is recorded that the Surveyor of St Paul’s was sent to the Admiralty before the service, “to collect and sign for flags to hang from the dome” and this may have been one of them although it should be mentioned that there was a thanksgiving service four weeks before Nelson’s actual funeral and this flag could also have been displayed then.
    There is no record of this but it would be good if this was the ensign from the 74 gun ship Le Swiftsure formally HMS Swiftsure captured by the French in 1801. She fought in the French Navy and was recaptured by the British at the Battle of Trafalgar 21 October 1805. Although badly damaged she was towed and repaired in Gibraltar before re-commissioning in the R.N. where she was renamed HMS Irresistible as there was by then already another Swiftsure in the R.N. She served in the Fleet and latterly as a prison ship at Chatham before being broken up in 1816.
    Malcolm Lewis