'Lost' Union flag flown at the Battle of Trafalgar is up for sale for …

A lost Union flag flown at the Battle of Trafalgar and said to be worth 250,000 has been unearthed by a descendant of a sailor who won it as part of a bet.

The giant flag, that is peppered with holes from musket balls and splinter fragments, is one of just three from the famous 1805 battle known to exist today.

It has been kept folded up in a cupboard in the castle home of the family that has owned it for 170 years but is now being sold to help fund roof repairs.

Heirloom: Arthur Corey, 49, is selling the heirloom to pay for repairs to his leaky roof and his daughter s university tuition fees. His ancestor, Lieutenant Nicholas Cory, was gifted the flag by King William IV for helping him win a yacht race (and the bet) in the 1830s

The 14ft by 7ft flag flew from the tallest mast on HMS Leviathan to help Admiral Lord Nelson quickly tell friend from foe in the thick of the action.

The 74 gun ship played a pivotal role as it was near the front of the column of Royal Navy vessels led by Nelson s flagship, HMS Victory.

After the battle, which resulted in a British victory and the death of Nelson, the Union Jack was taken down and kept by Leviathan s commander, Captain Sir William Bayntun.

He gave it to his great friend the Duke of Clarence, who went on to be King William IV, and who had also previously served with Nelson.

In the 1830s the King gifted the battle-scarred flag to a senior officer on the Royal Yacht George as a thank you for helping his vessel beat another yacht in a race and win a bet.

Giant: The 14ft by 7ft flag flew from the tallest mast on HMS Leviathan to help Admiral Lord Nelson quickly tell friend from foe in the thick of the action. The HMS Leviathon was the fourth ship to break through the line of the Combined Fleet behind Lord Nelson and had to search for a ship to engage

Rare: The flag is one of only three Union Jacks known to still be in existence that were flown during the Battle of Trafalgar.

The one that flew on HMS Minotaur and is held by the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich and the one from HMS Spartiate and sold for almost 400,000 in 2009

It has been passed down through the family of Lieutenant Nicholas Cory and is now being sold by Arthur Cory, a direct descendant who has kept it rolled up in a cupboard for most of the time.

As well as paying for the roof repairs of his historic home Mr Cory, 49, said the money raised will also help pay his daughter s university fees.

Mr Cory, a company director from Cowbridge, Glamorgan, said: Ever since I was a small boy I have known about the flag from when my father showed it to me and told me where it was from.

Hidden: Arthur Corey inherited the flag in 1981 and has kept it folded up in a cupboard with other flags in his collection

It was kept folded up in a damp cupboard in the old servants hall along with lots of other flags.

I inherited it in 1981 and kept it in the same cupboard.

It is always sad to sell these things but we have a bit of a roof problem and water-tight roof is more important then a piece of history that isn t doing anything useful.

Some of the proceeds will also go towards my daughter s university fees.

Genuine: Two independent maritime experts have verified the flag s authenticity, which is expected to fetch a six-figure sum when it goes to auction in March

The two other Trafalgar Union flags that exist are the one that flew on HMS Minotaur and is held by the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich and one from HMS Spartiate that sold for almost 400,000 in 2009.

The Leviathan flag has been verified by two independent maritime specialists.

It is being sold by Norfolk-based Holt s Auctioneers who have given it a pre-sale estimate of 30,000 to 50,000 but they expect it sell for a six-figure sum.

Roland Elworthy, of Holt s, said: I feel humble and honoured handling this item because I have no doubts of its provenance.

A great deal of research coupled with the opinion of independent specialists indicates that we have a genuine Trafalgar Union Flag. That makes it terribly rare.

The navy stopped flying Union Jacks from the jackstaff on the bow about 50 years before Trafalgar but Nelson ordered the ships to fly from the foremast during the battle to aid instant recognition and avoid friendly fire.

HMS Leviathan: The ship fought in the battle for more than three hours, but only suffered the deaths of four crew and 22 wounded. After the battle, HMS Leviathan was converted to a prison for 28 years

It is definitely after 1801 because the design of the Union flag changed at that time and very loose woven wool is correct to the period and hand stitched.

Some of the holes are from mothballs but some were caused by musket holes and some are from bits of wood splinter.

Leviathan escaped quite intact but lost most of her rigging in the battle.

The flag has enormous historic value and I anticipate great interest in it.

Leviathan was the forth ship in Nelson s column and by the time she passed through the enemy line at 1pm she had to search for a ship to engage. Capt Bayntun took on the Spanish ship San Augustin which was boarded and captured.

Leviathan was engaged in battle for over three hours but only had four crew killed and 22 wounded. All three masts were badly damaged and a large section of rigging was shredded.

After Trafalgar the ship was converted to a prison for 28 years and then used as target practice for Royal Navy ships at Portsmouth before she was broken up for firewood in 1848.

The flag will be sold next March.


Hero: Admiral Lord Nelson led one of Britain s greatest naval battles and defended the country from the serious security threat posed by Napoleon Bonaparte

Fought on 21st October 1805, the Battle of Trafalgar is one of history s most epic sea clashes.

Not only did it see Britain eliminate the most serious threat to security in 200 years, but it also saw the death of British naval hero Admiral Lord Nelson.

This was not before his high-risk, but acutely brave strategy won arguably the most decisive victory in the Napoleonic wars.

Nelson s triumph gave Britain control of the seas and laid the foundation for Britain s global power for more than a century.

Despite signing a peace treaty in 1903, the two nations were at war and fought each other in seas around the world.

After Spain allied with France in 1804, the newly-crowned French emperor Bonaparte Napoleon had enough ships to challenge Britain.

In October 1805, French Admiral Pierre-Charles Villeneuve led a Combined French and Spanish fleet of 33 ships from the Spanish port of Cadiz to face Nelson and Vice Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood.

Nelson, fresh from chasing Villeneuve in the Caribbean, led the 27-ship fleet charge in HMS Victory, while Vice Admiral Collingwood sailed in Royal Sovereign.

Battles at sea had until then been mainly inconclusive, as to fire upon the opposing ship, each vessel had to pull up along side one another (broadside) which often resulted in equal damage.

Nelson bucked this trend by attacking the Combined Fleet line head on and sailed perpendicular towards the fleet, exposing the British to heavy fire.

He attacked in two columns to split the Combined Fleet s line to target the flagship of Admiral Villneuve.


30am Lord Nelson famously declared that England expects that every man will do his duty , in reference to the command that the ships were instructed to think for themselves. The captains had been briefed on the battle plan three weeks before, and were trusted to bravely act on their own initiative and adapt to changing circumstances unlike their opponents who stuck to their command.

Vice Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood led the first column and attacked the rear of the line, and broke through.

Nelson sailed directly for the head of the Combined Fleet to dissuade them from doubling back to defend the rear. But before he reached them, he changed course to attack the middle of the line and Villeneuve s flagship.

Speeding toward the centre of the line, HMS Victory found no space to break through as Villeneuve s flagship was being tightly followed forcing Nelson to ram through at close quarters.

In the heat of battle, and surrounded on three sides, Nelson was fatally shot in the chest by a well-drilled French musketeer.

The Combined Fleet s vanguard finally began to come to the aid of Admiral Villeneuve, but British ships launch a counter-attack.

Admiral Villeneuve struck his colours along with many other ships in the Combined Fleet and surrendered.

4.14pm HMS Victory Captain Thomas Masterman Hardy dropped below deck to congratulate Nelson on his victory, to which he replied Now I am satisfied.

Thank god I have done my duty.

4.30pm With the knowledge he has secured victory, but before the battle had officially concluded, Lord Nelson died.

5.30pm French ship Achille blew up signalling the end of the battle in all 17 Combined Fleet ships surrendered.

Destroyed: A severe storm hit just days after the battle causing an even greater loss of life and the further destruction of the already damaged ships on both sides



  1. ^ CREDIT (www.dailymail.co.uk)

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