Loutherbourg’s Simulations: Reenactment and Realism in Late-Georgian Britain

Part of the Reenactment History book series (REH)


On 28 June 2005 Queen Elizabeth formally reviewed 167 ships from Britain’s Royal Navy fleet plus some 30 international naval vessels as they conducted a sail-past in the Solent at Spithead near Plymouth. Part of a year-long series of events to commemorate the two-hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar, the review was a massive, popular pageant, pre-advertised in British tourist publicity for several years in advance, attended on the day by 300,000 holidaymakers, and watched on subsequent television broadcasts by millions all over the globe.1 According to press and public relations releases, the Spithead naval review was part of an ancient and proud British naval tradition. Though informal fleet reviews were said to go back 600 years, the first formal Spithead Review had been undertaken in October 1772 before George III, and had been replicated with increasing pomp and circumstance by successive British monarchs ever since. In all the torrent of hype no one mentioned, however, that George Ill’s Spithead Review could also boast another type of primacy: it had been the first ever visual simulation and mass-media reenactment of modern history.


Military Camp Marine Painter Dramatic Work British Artist Biographical Dictionary 
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© Iain McCalman 2010

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