Friday, 21 May 2010


Not only did the rhymster Vicar of Salcombe Regis, Philip Avant, (See, if you so wish, this blog for 6th May,) witness the coming of the French Fleet in 1690 but he was also joyful witness to William of Orange’s arrival in Torbay on 5th November 1688 and his triumphant progress to Exeter.

The ships, Philip Avant tells us, left Torbay as soon as they had disembarked the troops and then, with the cannon still on board, they came up the Exe. There were three hundred of them. Their skeely skippers sailed them in convoy around Exmouth Point and into the channels of the Exe and what a sight that must have been, three hundred transports, sailing up with the tide, gliding before an onshore breeze. “Three hundred Sail here safe arriv’d, and brought/ That Comfort which poor England long had sought.”

That November day must surely rate as one of the Estuary’s most glorious.

“When Orange with his Host, Batavians and
Other brave Hero’s gain’d Torbaia’s Strand,
The Fleet weighs Anchor thence, to Topsham bends
Her Course and soon obtains what she intends.
The Wind her Favours, through the mouth of Ex
She safely enters in despight of Styx:
Topsham receives the Cannon at her key;
And thence to Exon doth them soon convey,
The Prince mean while, welcome on land proceeds,
Whilst Dev’n o’erjoy’d admires his pious deeds.”

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