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Nelson & Trafalgar - Brief History of Britain's Greatest Hero

Trafalgar Tavern

On 21 October 1805 Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount, 1st Duke of Bronté led his men into the Battle of Trafalgar which would be one of Britain’s greatest naval victories, but it would also be Nelson’s last - he was killed by a sharpshooter whilst aboard his beloved HMS Victory. His influence and legacy has lived on long after his death, and he is widely regarded as Britain’s most heroic figures.

But who was he?

Horatio Nelson was born in Norfolk in 1758, the sixth of eleven children. Joining the navy at age 12 and becoming a captain just eight years later, he served in the Baltic, Canada and West Indies. Around 1784 he met Francis Nisbet in Nevis and in 1787 they were married, moving back to Norfolk not long after. 

After war broke out in France in 1793 he commissioned the 64-Gun HMS Agamemnon where his battle achievements, bold movements and defiance of orders made him a popular hero amongst his men. However, his wife begged him to display some restraint lest his actions cause him further serious damage, having already lost sight in his right eye in Calvi. Her worries were proven correct in 1797 when at the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife he lost most of his right arm, and he returned home to recouperate.


Artwork depicting the Battle Of The Nile

Back on the seas the next year, he aided his forces to victory over Napoleon at the Battle Of The Nile, destroying the French fleet and any hopes they had for a direct trade route to India. Naples became his next station, where he met and fell in love with Lady Emma Hamilton, who he considered his soul mate. They had a child together, Horatia, in 1801 the same year that Nelson was promoted to Vice-Admiral. 


By this time his Leadership had become the stuff of legend, and under his leadership the Royal Navy had proven their dominance over the French fleet from 1794 to 1805. In October of that year, Napoleon was once again threatening to invade Britain, and in a final flourish of supreme skill and daring, Nelson led his troops to battle and eradicated the threat, but by paying the ultimate price. His body was preserved in Brandy and transported home to lay in state in Greenwich's Painted Hall before being given a grand state funeral at Westminster Abbey - an ending as grandious as befits a man of his stature.


Artwork depicting the Battle of Trafalgar

The Trafalgar Tavern has over 200 pieces of artwork dedicated to depicting Nelson's various battles and acheivements, as well as portraits of him and his trusted officers, not to mention the various landscapes of Greenwich and the surrounding areas and other unique and notable artworks and artifacts. Much of our Tavern is dedicated to his many notable acheivements, including the larger-than-life bronze statue that reigns supreme over our drinks terrace because we are incredibly proud of the legacy he represents. He was renowned for being sympathetic and for leading with love rather than authority, able to inspire through courage, commitment and charisma, and in the current world climate, these are all attributes that we believe we should all be aspiring to embody.