Londoners flocked to the Royal parks on 1st August 1814 to see a series of attractions and events held to as part of the Grand Jubilee, which celebrated the end of the war with France and the 100th anniversary of the accession to the throne of King George I, the first monarch of the Hanoverian dynasty.


Visitors to the Serpentine in Hyde Park were able to witness no less than three naval battle re-enactments, presented using a fleet of small-scale ships built at Woolwich especially for the occasion. Two featured famous victories by the British fleet, under Horatio Nelson, over the French during the long war that had just ended. These were the Battle of the Nile, fought exactly sixteen years earlier on 1st August 1798, and the Battle of Trafalgar of 21st October 1805. The other showed the British fleet defeating the Americans (Britain and the United States were at war with each other in 1814).


View in Hyde Park, with the Fleet at Anchor, on the Serpentine River
Published by Palser, 1814
Collection no. H1449




Here, the ships are shown at anchor prior to the action. Later, as battle got underway, spectators were thrilled by the firing of rockets to simulate blasting cannons. According to one report, following the “Battle of Trafalgar” the French ships were set alight and sunk to the sound of the national anthem.