The bullet that killed Nelson
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