Nelson and Great Yarmouth

Lord Nelson was born close to the coastal town of Great Yarmouth in Norfolk. He paid a number of visits to Great Yarmouth throughout his career.

Great Yarmouth on the coast of Norfolk has a number of associations with Nelson. He was born close to the town at Burnham Thorpe, on 29 September 1758. During the course of his career, Nelson paid a number of visits to Yarmouth and won the love of the townspeople.

Visiting with Lady Hamilton

The most memorable visit was in 1800, following an overland journey through Europe. Nelson, travelling with his lover Emma, Lady Hamilton, and her husband, Sir William Hamilton, arrived in Hamburg and boarded the King George mail packet for England. This arrived at Yarmouth on a cold, wet winter’s day, 6 November 1800.

Nelson received a warm and enthusiastic welcome. In the harbour, boats flew flags and pennants. He appeared on the balcony of an inn with Lady Hamilton beside him, to loud applause and cheers from the public below. Nelson told the throng ‘I am a Norfolk man, and glory in being so’. Nelson was also given the Freedom of the Borough.

Departing for the Battle of Copenhagen

In 1801 it was at Great Yarmouth that a special fleet was formed under the overall command of Admiral Sir Hyde Parker, to threaten the Baltic states which had recently formed into an 'Armed Neutrality of the North', and placed an embargo on British ships. Nelson was the second-in-command of the fleet that left Yarmouth bound for Denmark, resulting in the Battle of Copenhagen on 2 April 1801. It was the second of Nelson's three great victories and the most hard-fought. Following the battle, Nelson returned to Yarmouth, landing on 1 July 1801.

Nelson’s legacy in Great Yarmouth

The town did not forget its associations with Nelson. After his death on the 21 October 1805 at the Battle of Trafalgar, the county of Norfolk decided to create a grand structure in his memory. The foundation stone was laid in 1817 and the Nelson Monument or Column was completed two years later. It pre-dates London’s Trafalgar Square monument by over 21 years.

Today Great Yarmouth also boasts a museum dedicated to Nelson, the Norfolk Nelson Museum, situated in an impressive Georgian property near the seafront.

Find out more about Nelson's life and legacy at the National Maritime Museum's 'Nelson, Navy, Nation' gallery. Entry to the National Maritime Museum is free, open daily from 10am. Plan your visit