Rorke’s Close

It was during the night of 22-23 January 1879 that eighty men of the 24th Regiment of the British Army, held some 4,000 Zulu warriors at bay, at Rorke’s Drift. It was the night after Isandhlwana and the men were there to guard the commissariat stores and the hospital of Lord Chelmsford’s force. Rorke’s Drift was a station on the Buffalo River, in Zululand, South Africa, and the men in charge at this heroic encounter were Lieutenants Chard and Bromhead. The incident was famously made in to a feature film in 1964; in it the part of John Chard was played by Stanley Baker, and that of Gonville Bromhead by Michael Caine.

The reason for the naming of Rorke’s Close at King’s Tamerton is that John Chard had moved to Mount Tamar House with his parents in the late 1840s, when Chard was just a year or two old (there is also a Chard Road on the land formerly belonging to Mount Tamar) and this area is where he grew up.

Chard and Bromhead were both awarded Victoria Crosses for their part in the defence of Rorke’s Drift which was all the more remarkable for the fact that their main line of protection was an improvised rampart of rice bags and biscuit boxes.