I blogged a while ago about our trip to Greenwich and our brief visit to the National Maritime Museum, but I wanted to mention it again, since we went back to the museum recently to see an exhibition of toy boats. While wandering around we saw quite a few things of interest from the Georgian and Regency periods, not least Admiral Lord Nelson’s Trafalgar coat. I wasn’t allowed to use flash, so excuse the poor photograph: there’s a clearer image on the Port Cities website.
But what you don’t get from a photograph is the scale of the object. I never realised how small in statue Nelson was – of course, people in the 18th century were smaller, generally, than we are today, but even so, I wasn’t quite prepared for this neat, petite piece of clothing. You could see the hole from the bullet that killed Nelson in the right shoulder of the coat (a passing American thought it looked a superficial blow, until he was told it came from above and went downwards through Nelson’s body). Along the back of the display they had Nelson’s stockings, still stained with blood (probably that of his secretary, John Scott, who was killed earlier in the battle). Rarely have I seen such an evocative piece of clothing, and the museum also had some excellent mourning artifacts on display related to Nelson’s death, including funeral jewellery and vases.