Nelson, Navy, Nation

The Fall of Nelson, Battle of Trafalgar, 21 October 1805 by Denis DightonThe Fall of Nelson, Battle of Trafalgar, 21 October 1805 by Denis Dighton, circa 1825. Repro ID: BHC0552 ©National Maritime Museum, London

The story of the Royal Navy and the British people, 1688–1815

Opens 21 October 2013

A major new permanent gallery, Nelson, Navy, Nation opens at the National Maritime Museum on Trafalgar Day, 21 October 2013.

From bustling dockyards to ferocious sea battles, the gallery brings to life the tumultuous 18th century, exploring how the Royal Navy shaped everyday lives as it became a central part of society and turned sea-faring heroes into national celebrities.

Journeying from the Glorious Revolution of 1688 to the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, Nelson, Navy, Nation brings together over 250 star objects from the Museum’s collections, from the sailor’s shoes worn to impress on shore leave and love tokens sent to sweethearts, to a fiendish seven-barrelled volley gun and an amputation knife and bullet forceps. Discover what made men join up, how they lived and what kept them in line; and how the Navy loomed large in all areas of the popular imagination, from caricatures to keepsakes and collectables.

Showcasing Admiral Lord Nelson’s iconic uniform and personal items as well as weird and wonderful Nelson memorabilia, the gallery considers the legendary national hero within the context of his day, making sense of his achievements and dazzling celebrity while telling a wider story about British society.

Taking in sailors as well as Admirals, landlubbers as well as seadogs, women as well as men and ordinary life as well as the heat of battle, follow the story of the early days of a national institution which in turn shaped the story of how British people saw themselves, and their place in the world.