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February 19, 2019 2 min read

A weird day in Welsh history, 22nd February 1797

If asked when the last invasion of Britain was, many people in Britain will remember 1066 when the Normans successfully invaded the south coast of England and became the rulers of Britain for centuries.

But that is simply not true…

17971 - 1997 tapestry

Image courtesy of http://lastinvasiontapestry.co.uk/ 

The last invasion of Britain was in west Wales near to the town of Fishguard. The original plan of the French was to land at Bristol, but weather conditions and probably other mistakes meant that they actually landed in west Wales. On February 22nd, 1797, after landing between Fishguard and Goodwick at Carreg Wastad bay, the French army of some 1,500 men marched inland and occupied higher ground Garnwnda and Garngelli.

The local British army was heavily outnumbered, but reinforcements were gathering at Fishguard where the officers were stationed overnight in what is now called the Royal Oak Inn. 

The invasion started and finished within 2 days. A local heroine, Jemima Nicholas, is said to have captured soldiers single-handedly and secured them in St Mary’s Church with nothing more than a pitchfork. On 24th February, the French army marched down from their higher ground positions to Goodwick Beach, where they laid down their weapons and gave an unconditional surrender. The surrender was completed in the Royal Oak pub in Fishguard and this is noted on a plaque above the front door.

Royal Oak Pub Fishguard

The landmarks of this failed invasion are still to be seen today. Firstly in Fishguard there is a tapestry recording of this event made in 1997 to commemorate the, 200 year anniversary of the invasion. And whilst you’re in Fishguard, you can visit the Royal Oak pub, still serving food and drink today and witness a wall plaque recording the surrender.

Tapestry Image courtesy of  http://lastinvasiontapestry.co.uk/ .


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