• Holt

    Holt

  • Wells Next The Sea

    Wells Next The Sea

  • Sheringham Coast

    Sheringham Coast

  • Holkham

    Holkham

  • Coastal Path

    Coastal Path

  • Stopping For  Coffee In Fakenham

    Stopping For Coffee In Fakenham

  • North Norfolk Railway

    North Norfolk Railway

  • Wolterton Hall Woods

    Wolterton Hall Woods

  • Holt High Street

    Holt High Street

  • Sheringham

    Sheringham

  • Morston

    Morston

  • Morston

    Morston

  • Stody Gardens

    Stody Gardens

  • Seals At Blakeney Point

    Seals At Blakeney Point

  • Cromer Pier

    Cromer Pier

  • Sheringham Mural

    Sheringham Mural

  • Cley Windmill

    Cley Windmill

September 15th and our first monthly meeting since ….

Captain Hoste of HMS Amphion by Henry Edridge London 1768 1821

We held our first live monthly meeting at Blakeney Village Hall on 15 September, when Chairman Peggy Williams welcomed nearly 60 members back to NNu3a. It felt like a collective “hug” though we were all too sensible to do any actual hugging.

Our speaker was Cathy Shelbourne, a woman with a self-confessed lifelong passion for maritime heroes, brazen buccaneers, and splendid ships. Today she told us about Sir William Hoste, a Norfolk man and protégé of our other fine local seaman, Admiral Lord Nelson. Hoste was one of the great captains of the Napoleonic wars. His courageous exploits probably gave Patrick O’Brien the inspiration for his character Captain Jack Aubrey, the hero in his Aubrey-Maturin series and the film Master and Commander.

Born 22 years after Nelson in Ingoldisthorpe, and (like Nelson) the son of a vicar, Hoste went to sea in 1793 at the age of 13 as a midshipman on Nelson’s ship Agamemnon. He stayed at sea for an astonishing 10 years before making his first return home.

Hoste was involved in several famous sea battles of the period, and Cathy concentrated on three of his most notable and daring victories against Napoleon’s navy, at the Battle of Lissa (now Vis) in Croatia in 1811, and at Kotor in Montenegro and Ragusa (now Dubrovnik) in 1814. At Lissa, where his ships were based, Hoste even established a “cricket club“ while waiting for the battle against the French.

In the battle of Lissa, he overcame a much larger French force, both in the number of ships and men, partly (according to Hoste) the French were afraid of the awful weather which held no fear for English sailors! Hoste signalled “Remember Nelson” to his ships to motivate them to victory.

At the battle of Cattalo (Kotor) in January 1814 he overcame the combined forces of the French and Italians, using a novel tactic of dragging guns from a ship up the mountainside to bombard the enemy. After 10 days of bitter fighting, he won. Almost impudently, he repeated the same tactics of land and sea bombardment at Ragusa (Dubrovnik) later the same month, succeeding in taking the surrender of the enemy forces there too.

By now, Hoste’s health was declining because of malaria and a lung infection earlier in his life, and he was forced to return to England in 1814, to be rewarded with a baronetcy, and in 1815 he was Knighted. He had turned the tide of war against Napoleon’s navy by being bold and resourceful. Although Lady Emma Hamilton had predicted that Hoste would be a second Nelson, he did not achieve any more naval victories. In 1817, he married Harriet Walpole, daughter of Horatio Walpole and they had six children. Hoste died from tuberculosis in 1828 at the age of 48. He has a memorial in St Paul’s opposite that of Nelson.

Cathy Shelbourne brought this local hero to life for us. When you next go to The Hoste Arms in Burnham Market, do as Cathy urged us and drink a toast to Sir William Hoste.

David Riddle