Nelson's Battle of Trafalgar uniform to star in Maritime Museum's Nelson, Navy, Nation

By Culture24 Reporter | 11 September 2013

The uniform worn by Nelson during the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, works of art including Devis’s depiction of the death of the Admiral and personal items of sailors will be among the highlights of the National Maritime Museum’s new permanent gallery, which will open on Trafalgar Day, Ocotober 21, 2013.

A picture of a painting of an 18th century admiral in navy uniform
John Francis Rigaud, Captain Horatio Nelson (1781)© National Maritime Museum, London
Nelson, Navy, Nation will look at the Royal Navy from the personal viewpoint of those who have served in it. The Glorious Revolution of 1688 is the starting point for a display of landlubbers, seadogs, men, women and periods of battle and relative mundanity.

As in his life, Nelson will take centre stage. His final letter, to his daughter, Horatia, and an example of the mourning rings worn by his family and close friends and family at his funeral will be shown, as well as commemorative items collected by his devotees.

A Battle of the Nile-themed bulb planter and toy bricks showing scenes from his funeral procession represent the reverence in which he was held by the British people.

Public life will be a consistent backdrop for the show. Wealth, exotic adventures and a decent diet are a few of the reasons sailors would enrol, their lives portrayed through love tokens sent to sweethearts, hopeful dispatches home, dress-aiming-to-impress during shore leave and sub-deck camaraderie.

But it will also expose the grimmer side of life at sea: a seven-barrelled volley gun and brutal punishments were regular hazards. Amputation knives, bone saws and bullet forceps are tools of the surgeon’s table.

  • Nelson, Navy, Nation opens at the National Maritime Museum on October 21 2013.

More pictures:

Lemuel Francis Abbott, Rear-Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson (1799)© National Maritime Museum, London
An image of a painting of various naval ships at sea during the 18th century
John Cleveley, the Elder, The Royal George at Deptford Showing the Launch of the Cambridge (1757)© National Maritime Museum, London
An image of a painting of sailors on the deck of a naval boat at war in the 18th century
Dighton, Denis, The Fall of Nelson, Battle of Trafalgar, 21 October 1805 (circa 1825)© National Maritime Museum, London
An image of a painting of various dignitaries around a table on a ship during the 18th century
William Hogarth,, Captain Lord George Graham, 1715-47, in his Cabin (1742-44)© National Maritime Museum, London
An image of an 18th century painting of an admiral clubbing alligators in a shallow sea
James Gillray; H. Humphrey, 'Extirpation of the Plagues of Egypt; - Destruction of Revolutionary Crocodiles; - or - The British Hero cleansing ye mouth of ye Nile (published October 6 1798)© National Maritime Museum, London
An image of an 18th century coin showing a naval admiral against gold lettering
Metal disc, maker unknown (circa 1740)© National Maritime Museum, London
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