Heritage Category:
Maritime Wreck
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Location Description:
Hanover Cove, near Cligga Head, Cornwall


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Location Description:
Hanover Cove, near Cligga Head, Cornwall
National Grid Reference:
SW 73700 53201


1763 wreck of an English brigantine which stranded in Hanover Cove (subsequently named after the wreck) in a gale en route from Lisbon to Falmouth.


The Hanover, a 100ft two-mast square rigger brigantine, built in 1757, was en route from Lisbon, Portugal to Falmouth, Cornwall carrying £60,000 in gold and valuables. She became wrecked when a SSW gale veered NNW and drove her into a small bay on the North Cornish coast on 13 December 1763. This area subsequently became known as Hanover Cove. Only three people survived out of the 27 crew and three passengers.

The Hanover site was discovered in June 1994. The identification is supported by a bronze bell, inscribed 'The Hanover Paquet 1757' reported as coming from the site. Designation was made after a salvage rig was positioned on site which had raised more than 50 guns, thereby destabilising the site.

Officially it is thought that the Hanover is owned by the Post Office, the successor organisation to the packet service, whose ships carried mail and freight all over the world from 1688-1852.


Designation History: Designation Order: (No 3), No 1718, 1997 Made: 18th July 1997 Laid before Parliament: 18th July 1997 Coming into force: 19th July 1997 Protected area: 250 metres within 50 20.075 N 005 10.823 W

No part of the restricted area lies above the high-water mark of ordinary spring tides.

Documentary History: The Hanover, a 100ft two-masted square-rigger brigantine, built in 1757, was en route from Lisbon to Falmouth with £60,000 in gold and valuables, estimated at a current value of £50m. She was wrecked when a SSW gale veered to the NNW, driving her into a cove on 13th December1763, which was subsequently named after the wreck. Only three people survived out of 27 crew and 3 passengers.

This vessel, carrying a large quantity of gold coin, was wrecked in the parish of St. Agnes. 'The Collector of Customs at St. Ives and the agent for paquets, enrolled a body of 60 men, making an agreement with them for salvage. One very singular instance of the fidelity of the salvors ought to be recorded to their honour: At the time of low water, when neither Collector nor agent was present, some gold coin were found on the sands and immediate notice was sent to the Collector, who was 3 miles distant. Upon arrival, he found 59 of the 60 men scattered over the sand, and as a piece of gold was found, the finder dropt it into a hat held by the 60th man. The pieces of gold coin were from the value of 36s each to 2s 6d each and it is verily believed not one piece was concealed by any of the 60 men.'

Documentary evidence suggests that in April 1765 an iron trunk containing gold was recovered which, with the recovery of other valuables, satisfied the insurers.

Archaeological History: Discovered in 1994, 50 guns and a section of the ship's structure were recovered from the site by a local diver three years later. (16) Identification is supported by the discovery of a bronze bell, inscribed "The HANOVER PACQUET, 1757", reported as coming from the site.

The site is covered by 2-3 metres of sand and is only periodically uncovered, with a maximum of 8m of water at MHWM. The site is highly dynamic and mobile.

Across the centre of the wreck is a large rock that stands some distance higher that the surrounding seabed. In all probability it must have been this rock that the Hanover struck first. In the heavy and confused sea state within the cove that day, this rock must have broken the ship's back and broken her to pieces in a very short time. The fact that the survivors were described as being washed onto the rocks battered and frightened suggest that most of the dead were killed by being thrown against the shore rather than drowning, as is often the case in shipwreck. The survivors must have been lucky enough to have found footholds in the rock surrounding the cove to get above the height of the seas. The wreck must have fragmented very quickly in the violence of the seas in Hanover Cove and what the salvors saw the following week can only have remained because it was pinned down by the weight of cannons that had been in the Hanover's hold. The violence of the wrecking can be seen in the fragmentary hull structure that remains. The surviving fragment does not include the keel, but the structure immediately to the side of this and it would have pinned to the seabed by the weight of the cannons in the hold. In order for the Hanover to have remained stable, the cannons must have been equally distributed across the lower hull of the ship, but that is not indicated by the wreck site in which only the first futtock and associated timbers are still present. This could be a manifestation of the violence of the wreck and the impact of striking the seabed, sufficient to move these guns and hence roll the ship in her final moments. In addition the edges of the structure are literally 'snapped' off, something that would have required considerable force to achieve.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:
AMIE - Wrecks


Books and journals
Carter, C, Cornish Shipwrecks, Volume 2 : The North Coast, (1970)
Fenwick, V, Gale, A, Historic Shipwrecks : Discovered, Protected and Investigated, (1998), 114-116
'Nautical Archaeology Society newsletter' in Nautical Archaeology Society , ()
'Sherborne Mercury' in Sherborne Mercury, (1763)
'Sunday Times' in Sunday Times, (1996)


This site is designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 as it is or may prove to be the site of a vessel lying wrecked on or in the sea bed and, on account of the historical, archaeological or artistic importance of the vessel, or of any objects contained or formerly contained in it which may be lying on the sea bed in or near the wreck, it ought to be protected from unauthorised interference. Protected wreck sites are designated by Statutory Instrument. The following information has been extracted from the relevant Statutory Instrument.

Statutory Instrument

Information provided under the Statutory Instrument heading below forms part of the official record of a protected wreck site. Information provided under other headings does not form part of the official record of the designation. It has been compiled by Historic England to aid understanding of the protected wreck site.

Statutory Instruments: 1997/1718

End of official listing

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