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Nelson Collection shows impact of Britain’s most famous Admiral


Thu 13 Jun 24

A collection of pictures, memorabilia, and books related to the life, times, and achievements of Admiral Lord Nelson (1758-1805) is now on display in a newly refurbished Morning Room in Admiral’s House at the Old Royal Naval College.

The Nelson Collection is made up of purchases made over the past 30 years by Warwick Leadlay Gallery and its owner Anthony Cross, with most of the collection containing antique depictions of the main battles of Nelson’s career.  

There will be approximately 32 prints, mostly portraits of Nelson and individuals integral to his career, scenes from the battle of Trafalgar, his death onboard HMS Victory, funeral at St Paul’s and his lying in state in the Painted Hall. The objects are a mix of ceramic, glass and metal memorabilia and decorative art commemorating the exploits of Nelson and some demonstrate the “hero-making” and nation-building legacy that was created around his image. 

The Morning Room in Admiral’s House has also been transformed through careful restoration from an underused storage area into an elegant and versatile exhibition space. Admiral’s House is the oldest building of the Old Royal Naval College site, originally commissioned by King Charles II to be his King’s House in 1660. In 1745 the rooms became the official residence of the Governor of Greenwich Hospital. It then became known as Admiral’s House, as the Governor was almost always an Admiral. In the building, many important visitors, including British and overseas royalty, were received and entertained. The Morning Room may have been one of these rooms, as its name is usually associated with rooms that are an ideal place to welcome guests in the daytime as it receives a lot of morning light. These visitors to Admiral’s House may have included Admiral Lord Nelson himself, who visited Greenwich in October 1797 and likely dined with the Governor here when he was staying in the Queen Anne building.  

The Nelson Collection is currently available for the public to view through special events and tours, private hire and on open days to share the historical significance of this once private collection. This project was entirely funded by the Old Royal Naval College’s loyal community of individual supporters, to which we are most grateful.