Lord Horatio Nelson was born on this day 253 years ago. He’s one of the UK’s most cherished heroes, killed in action by a French sniper at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. He survived long enough to see his fleet clinch victory, and then died in his comrades’ arms.
He is the epitome of the plucky British hero – cool under pressure, devoted to King and country and an all-round jolly good chap. And, despite being a life-long sufferer from acute seasickness, he became the greatest naval hero the UK has ever known.
There are monuments to Nelson all over the world but here are the British ones worth checking out:
Nelson’s Column, Trafalgar Square, London
We all know this one, don’t we? London’s most famous and photographed square is named after the famous sea battle in which Nelson died. In the centre, a statue of him stands guard atop a huge column, looking south, forever protecting Britain from invasion.
It’s one of those sights Londoners are so used to seeing they rarely give it a second look. But did you know that before Nelson’s statue was hoisted into place, the stonemasons working on the column staged a celebratory dinner party at the top? There’s also a replica of Nelson’s ship, HMS Victory, in a bottle on the fourth plinth.
Nelson’s Tomb, St Paul’s Cathedral, London
Nelson’s body was transported home from Trafalgar in a barrel of brandy, then given a full state funeral before being laid to rest in the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral in an imposing black sarcophagus. He was so loved by his men that the flag covering his coffin was torn to shreds as sailors vied for a keepsake. Nelson’s monument in the south transept is also impressive.
HMS Victory, Portsmouth
Nelson’s flagship at Trafalgar is a beautifully preserved example of a Georgian warship. Take a tour to learn the brutal reality of ocean-going warfare during the period and see the spot where Nelson fell.
The Lord Nelson Pub, Norfolk
After all these tales of derring-do, you’ll be in need of a stiff drink. Admiral Nelson’s local, where he grew up in Norfolk, still has the benches that were graced by the naval hero’s behind as well as stone-floors, real ales and a warm welcome. Try the homemade ‘Nelson’s Blood’, a rum-based tipple inspired by the story of sailors taking sneaky sips from the barrel in which his body was preserved after Trafalgar.