Nelson's Trafalgar Coat

Ahoy closure

Bringing the kids? As we build our exciting new Exploration Wing, the Ahoy! children’s gallery may occasionally close at short notice. Our popular kids' attraction the Great Map remains open throughout, and there is lots for kids to see and do at Cutty Sark

Essential information

Opening times: 
10.00–17.00 daily
National Maritime Museum

Get up close to the actual uniform Admiral Nelson was wearing when he was fatally wounded at the Battle of Trafalgar.

Nelson’s Trafalgar coat is currently on display in the National Maritime Museum’s major new exhibition Emma Hamilton: Seduction and Celebrity (open until 17 April 2017). The uniform will return to the ‘Nelson, Navy, Nation’ gallery in May 2017. In its place for the duration of the exhibition is the uniform Nelson wore in 1798 at his decisive and momentous naval victory, the Battle of the Nile.

Visit the Emma Hamilton exhibition

The Trafalgar coat and the death of Nelson

In a bittersweet moment in history, Admiral Nelson did triumph at the 1805 battle and as a result put a halt to Napoleon's scheme to invade England. But this amazing naval hero paid for his victory with his life, dying aboard HMS Victory.

The bullet hole from the French sharpshooter who hit Nelson is visible in the left shoulder of the coat. There are also blood stains on the tails and left sleeve - thought to be from Nelson's secretary, John Scott, who had been killed earlier in the action.

After he was wounded, Nelson was carried below deck. He lived for long enough to find out that the English navy had been successful in defeating the French and Spanish forces.

The garment is a beautiful vice-admiral's undress coat, made from blue wool cloth with a stand-up collar, button-back lapels, gold trim and four orders of chivalry sewn on the front. Nelson had lost his right arm in a battle in 1797 and there is a small loop on the right sleeve of the coat to secure it to a lapel button.

Find out more about Nelson

Visit the Nelson, Navy, Nation gallery