The bul­let that killed Nel­son

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

THE QUEEN has loaned Nor­wich Cas­tle Mu­seum & Art Gallery the bul­let that killed Ad­mi­ral Lord Nel­son (it’s usu­ally on dis­play at Wind­sor Cas­tle) for a new ex­hi­bi­tion, ‘Nel­son & Norfolk’ (July 29 to Oc­to­ber 1).

Although it cost Nel­son his life, the Bat­tle of Trafal­gar of 1805 is still cel­e­brated as one of our great­est naval vic­to­ries. Af­ter the Ad­mi­ral ut­tered his fi­nal words—‘thank God, I have done my duty’—vic­tory’s sur­geon, Wil­liam Beatty, re­moved the fa­tal bul­let, which was still fused with lace from Nel­son’s epaulette. He had it mounted (lace and all) in a locket, which he wore for the rest of his life. On his death in 1842, it was pre­sented to Queen Vic­to­ria.

‘We are hon­oured to have been loaned such a highly poignant ob­ject,’ says Ruth Bat­tersby Tooke, se­nior cu­ra­tor of cos­tume and tex­tiles. ‘It is fit­ting that the bul­let is shown along­side the mon­u­men­tal early French Tri­colour, which was the en­sign [or flag] of the French war­ship Le Généreux, which saw ac­tion in the Bat­tle of the Nile in 1798 [Town & Coun­try, Fe­bru­ary 15].’

She con­tin­ues: ‘In ex­plain­ing the story of each of the unique and sig­nif­i­cant ex­hibits, we are pro­vid­ing in­sights into Nel­son and his times, the cult of his per­son­al­ity and the way he has been li­onised and com­mem­o­rated. The ex­hi­bi­tion’s main themes are Nel­son’s ex­tra­or­di­nary legacy, his rep­u­ta­tion and the on­go­ing na­ture of his “Im­mor­tal Mem­ory”.’

An­other locket in the ex­hi­bi­tion con­tains two dif­fer­ent locks of hair, thought to be those of Nel­son and Emma, Lady Hamil­ton. Many of the fas­ci­nat­ing ex­hibits haven’t been re­united for more than a cen­tury and, in ad­di­tion to those from Norfolk Mu­se­ums Ser­vice col­lec­tions, items have come from the Na­tional Mar­itime Mu­seum Green­wich and the Royal Col­lec­tion, as well as pri­vate in­di­vid­u­als.

There is a fundrais­ing ini­tia­tive un­der way to raise money to­wards the con­ser­va­tion of the French en­sign. Visit cam­paign.just­giv­ing.com/ char­ity/ cos­tume-tex­tile-as­so­ci­a­tion/ en sign of le genereux to do­nate or visit www. mu­se­ums.norfolk.gov.uk for fur­ther in­for­ma­tion on the ex­hi­bi­tion.

The pro­jec­tile that killed Nel­son was mounted in a locket and worn by Vic­tory’s sur­geon

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