January 2016 | Fiona Karn-Smith

The victory of the British fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar over the forces of France and Spain on 21 October 1805 was a tactical triumph for Vice-Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson who, leading from the front on HMS Victory was fatally wounded. This heroic death sealed his status as a national hero.

A depiction of Nelson in the Painted Hall.

Nelson’s body was pickled in brandy and brought back to home waters, where his body was then transferred to a coffin and placed in the Record room at the Royal Hospital for Seamen (now the Nelson Room at the ORNC). Meanwhile the Painted Hall was prepared for his lying in state between the 5 – 7 January 1806.

Hundreds visited the Painted hall over the three day period to pay their respects to Admiral Lord Nelson, who lay in the upper hall of the Painted Hall.

Every January at the ORNC we hold the Immortal Memory Toast. Anyone is invited to come along and raise a glass of port to the Immortal Memory of Admiral Lord Nelson. You'll be able to purchase a glass of port for £3 in the Painted Hall.  

 Top 5 Nelson Facts

  1. Nelson became Sea Captain at 20 
    During his teens, Horatio saw extensive sea duty service in the Caribbean, Canada, and in the Baltic. Three months before his 21st birthday he was given the command of the British Navy frigate Hitchinbroke stationed at Port Royal, Jamaica.

  2. Nelson was blinded in Battle
    Nelson was one-eyed. You may know that Nelson was killed by a sniper’s bullet in the Battle of Trafalgar. Did you know that in previous battles he was twice wounded? When only 35 he lost his right eye during the French Revolution in the British capture of Corsica in 1794. While firing cannons during the siege of the Corsican town of Calvi, Nelson was hit in the face and blinded by a shower of gravel!

  3. Nelson's fleet lived off alcohol 
    In Nelson’s time, common sailors were provided with 1 gallon of beer or wine each day. They also got a ration of grog (25% rum, 75%water) with breakfast and supper daily.

  4. Nelson was involved in a scandalous love triangle...
    Nelson fell for Emma, Lady Hamilton. Emma, a former artist’s model and unwed mother, had become the mistress then wife of the much older Sir William Hamilton, British Ambassador to the Kingdom of Naples. Emma swooned over the gallant hero of the Nile, despite Nelson being short, plagued by the chronic aftereffects of malaria, blind in one eye, and lacking an arm. Emma’s husband permitted, then welcomed, the addition of the still-married-to-Fanny Horatio to his marriage. Soon the threesome were living openly in a relationship that was certainly more scandalous in their day than it would be today.

  5. Nelson went to sea as a boy
    Horatio Nelson went to sea at the age of 12. The 6th of 11 children, Horatio was born in 1758 to Rev. Edmund and Catherine Suckling Nelson.

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