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William lands at Torbay November 5th 1688


At Brixham we stayed in a hotel overlooking an impressive statue of William of Orange landing his invasion force on November 5, 1688. We imagined the scene as a Bible was flourished at the waiting Devonians ‘all the people shouted for joy and huzzas did now echo into the air many amongst them throwing up their hats and all making signs with their hands’ (London Gazette).

Like Monmouth, William was intent on deposing James II and preserving protestantism; the consequences in Ulster still impact on us. William succeeded where Monmouth and Cromwell failed. Under him was created the first free parliament, a constitutional monarchy and the naval dockyards at Plymouth. On our return to Honiton, where William’s army was billeted, we thought of the Dutch soldiers grumbling about the poor condition of East Devon’s roads. ‘Frost bit the mud churned roads from Exeter... manhandling cannon and stores along icy wheelruts on the road to Axminster’.

History records that James declared Honiton was the turning point and led to his flight to France via Rochester when Lord Cornbury, his brother-in-law, switched sides and offered his regiment to William. The men sang - was this the first time that the famous tune Lilliburlero (performed in Kubrick’s film Barry Lindon) was heard in England?

Published Date: July 10th 2018

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