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Click on the photo above to enlarge. Photo kindly provided by the War and Peace Collection.
Born in Limerick, Ireland, Walter Burke was the purser who is famous for holding Admiral Lord Nelson in his last moments abroad the famous HMS Victory during the Battle of Trafalgar. He was also the oldest man to serve in the British fleet, at the age of 59.
After the battle, Walter Burke retired to live in Wouldham where he owned two houses - Purser Place and Burke House.
Walter Burke died in Wouldham in 1815 at the age of 79. Walter Burke is buried in Wouldham Church's graveyard, where his headstone reads:
"Walter Burke Esq of this parish died on the 12th of September 1815 in the year of his age he was Purser on his majesty's ship Victory in the glorious battle of Trafalgar and in his arms the immortal Nelson died".
Click on the photo above to enlarge. Photo kindly provided by Medway Council.
Walter Burke also has a road in Wouldham named after him - Walter Burke Avenue.
In 1937, both houses were dismantled and the materials were taken to Maresfield, Sussex to form part of a newly built house, which was then called Purser Place. Beams from Burke House were used in a rear extension. The site of Purser Place has now been replaced by a modern house, 165 High Street and the site of Burke House has also been replaced by modern housing at 186/188 High Street.
Click on the photo above to enlarge. Photo kindly provided by Wouldham Parish Council.
Click on the photos above to enlarge. Photos kindly provided by Maidstone Museum.
Click on the photo above to enlarge. Photo kindly provided by Snodland Historical Society.
Click on the photos above to enlarge. Photos kindly provided by Wouldham Parish Council.
Old Newspaper Reports
Daily Express - Friday 21st October 1955
The Navy's bands are playing today for NELSON and BURKE. Navy bands play today. For the 150th anniversary of Trafalgar. For Nelson. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will dine with the Admiralty Lords tonight at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich. Naval crews will attend a service at Burnham Thorpe, Norfolk, Nelson's birthplace. In Trafalgar-square a Royal Marine band will play. Naval detachments will march beneath Nelson's statue. Ships in the Thames will be floodlit. Throughout the Fleet, ships will dress overall. Guards bands will parade. A 15-gun salute will be fired at noon. At Portsmouth there will be celebrations in Victory, Nelson's flagship, in which he died winning the most famous sea battle in history. A band from Chatham will also march through Wouldham, near Rochester. Flowers will be placed on a grave. Rear- Admiral John Dent will lay a wreath. A Naval gard will parade. For in Wouldham parish church is buried one Walter Burke. Who was he? Nelson's purser, who held the admiral in his arms as he died.
Daily Mirror - Thursday 22nd October 1936
TRAFALGAR DAY NAVY-OF-TO-MORROW'S TRIBUTE. VILLAGE'S LINK WITH NELSON. To the grave of Sir Walter Burke, purser of the Victory at Trafalgar, came these village children at Wouldham Churchyard, Kent, with wreathes in memory of the man in whose arms Lord Nelson died.
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