REVIEW: Nelson, Navy, Nation at the National Maritime Museum
“England expects that every man will do his duty” ~ Horatio Nelson
I recently visited the National Maritime Museum for their Ships, Clocks and Stars exhibit but I also took the time to pop in and see the section devoted to one of England’s naval heroes and favourite sons, Lord Horatio Nelson.
Horatio Nelson was born September 29th, 1758 in Norfolk to moderately wealthy parents. He joined the Navy at age 12 in 1771 and quickly rose through the naval ranks with the aide of his uncle, Captain Maurice Suckling. Nelson was a formidable tactician and incredible strategist. He won numerous battles culminating in the famous 1805 victory, the Battle of Trafalgar, which claimed his life. He was voted as the ninth greatest Britain of all time. When Nelson died, he was given a state funeral; in attendance there were 32 Admirals, 100 Captains and an over 10,000 soldier escort to St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. The crypts of St. Paul’s are his final resting place and he lies in a magnificent sarcophagus that was originally intended for Cardinal Wolsey (1473 – 1530). To this day, Nelson remains a national treasure and English icon.
The National Maritime Museum has a wonderful exhibit dedicated to the life and times of Lord Nelson. The displays not only tells us about Nelson’s life and achievements but also give a glimpse into a Georgian sailor’s world. On display are the clothes, food, weapons and ship replicas from the period. There are also booming canon sounds and audio to give the visitor the feel of warfare at sea.
The most incredible part of the visit for me was seeing of course, seeing Nelson’s famous Trafalgar jacket. The jacket has the bullet hole that mortally wounded him on the Victory, on October 21st, 1805. You can also see the rest of the clothes he was wearing on the day he died as well as a lock of his hair, his final letter to his daughter, rings and other fascinating personal effects. There are also amazing pieces such as tickets and notices for his state funeral, and a snippet of the Union flag from the Victory. I was in complete and utter awe; it was a wonderful experience. This is by far, my favourite part of the National Maritime Museum.
If you are planning on spending any time in Greenwich while you visit London, this is a must see museum and a must see exhibit.
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