Nelson Entombed: The Military and Naval Pantheon in St Paul’s Cathedral

  • Holger Hoock


Shortly before 1 o’clock in the afternoon of 9 January 1806, infantry bands and cavalry trumpets heralded the imminent arrival of Admiral Lord Nelson’s funeral procession at St Paul’s Cathedral in the City of London (see Plate 26).1 Here was to end the journey of Britain’s pre-eminent naval hero, who had travelled from the vicarage of his lowly clergyman father in the Norfolk village of Burnham Thorpe to the triumphant victories of the Nile, Copenhagen, and Trafalgar. From there, Nelson’s body, preserved in a large cask filled with brandy, had made its way on the admiral’s flagship the Victory via Gibraltar, where it was embalmed, to the Painted Hall at Greenwich. The body lay in a coffin made from pieces of the mainmast of the French flagship at the Battle of the Nile, l’Orient, encased in further coffins of lead and elm. An outer coffin of mahogany was covered in black Genoa velvet and divided by countless double-gilt nails into several compartments containing designs of Grief, Fame, Nelson’s crests, a sphinx, and a crocodile. Over three days, 100,000 mourners filed past Nelson in the vast, heavily ornamented mourning chamber.


National Archive Royal Academy National Monument Parliamentary Debate Military Rank 
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© Holger Hoock 2005

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  • Holger Hoock

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