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Location: Perranporth, Cornwall
Age / period: post medieval (1763)
List entry number: 1000072
Reason for designation: historical significance

Wreck history and loss

The Hanover, a 100ft two-mast square rigger brigantine, built in 1757, became wrecked en route from Lisbon to Falmouth, Cornwall carrying £60,000 (current value of £50 million) in gold and valuables. A SSW gale veered NNW and drove her into a cove on 13 December 1763. This area subsequently became known as Hanover Cove. Only three people survived out of the 27 crew and three passengers.

Insurers paid out for the loss of one of the ship's consignments but when, in April 1765, a trunk containing bullion was recovered, the case made legal history. The case established the principle that if an insurer paid out on lost cargo which was subsequently recovered in full and restored to the owner without loss, the insurer was entitled to be refunded (Fenwick and Gale 1998).

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

Discovery, investigation and artefacts

The wreck was discovered by a Cornish salvage diver in 1994. The identification is supported by a bronze bell, inscribed 'The Hanover Paquet 1757' reported as coming from the site. Also recovered in 1997 was a collection of 50 cannon, a gold ring, and a section of the ships structure, currently held by Orca Ltd (formerly Hydrasalve).

It was designated in 1997 after a salvage rig was positioned on site and had raised more than 50 guns, thereby destabilising the site. The salvor responded with litigation and was granted a licence to continue excavation under the observation of two archaeologists (Fenwick and Gale 1998).

The site is covered by approximately 2-3m of sand and is only periodically uncovered. There is a maximum of 8m of water over the site at mean high water mark (MHWM) and the site is highly dynamic and mobile.

Further work

In 2000, the Government's archaeological contractor reported that there were no obvious natural threats to the site except that whatever may survive buried in the seabed is now likely to be more susceptible to deterioration following the 1997 excavation as this will have disturbed the local environmental equilibrium.

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