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Royal Naval uniform: pattern 1795-1812 (Nelson's Trafalgar coat) (Undress coat)


Object details:

Object ID UNI0024
Description The undress uniform coat Admiral Nelson was wearing when shot at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Two hours into the action, at about 1.15 p.m., Hardy, realizing that the Admiral was no longer by his side, turned to see him on his knees, supporting himself on his left arm before this gave way and he collapsed on the spot where John Scott, his secretary, had been killed an hour earlier. Scott’s blood can still be seen staining the tails and the left sleeve of the coat. Nelson was one of many casualties caused by marksmen in the rigging of the French 'Redoutable'. The hole left by the fatal musket ball can be seen on the left shoulder close to the epaulette damaged by the same shot. Embroidered versions of Nelson’s four orders of chivalry are sewn to the front of the coat overlapping the edge of the lapel so that it could not be unbuttoned. They are: the star of the Order of the Bath, the Order of the Crescent awarded by the Sultan of Turkey, the Order of St Ferdinand and of Merit awarded by Ferdinand IV of Naples, and the German Order of St Joachim. Nelson habitually wore them on all his uniform coats. Captain Hardy returned the coat to Emma Hamilton in accordance with Nelson’s wishes. A young neighbour, Lionel Goldsmith, was taken to visit Emma towards the end of 1805 and saw it lying on the bed beside her. Nelson’s brother William, later 1st Earl Nelson, and his son Horatio wanted to display the relic at their new country residence, Trafalgar House, but a letter found in the pocket agreed that the family should lend it to Lady Hamilton during her lifetime. In the event she surrendered it to Joshua Jonathan Smith to discharge a debt just before she moved to France in 1814 – a few months before her death. HRH Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband, purchased the coat for £150 from Smith’s widow, through Sir Nicholas Harris Nicolas, editor of Nelson’s letters and dispatches, and presented it to Greenwich Hospital in 1845.
Date made Before 1805

Artist/Maker Unknown
Place made England
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Greenwich Hospital Collection
Materials wool; silk; brass; metal thread; gold alloy
Measurements Overall: 1160 mm x 560 mm x 530 mm
  • Royal Naval uniform: pattern 1795-1812 (Nelson's Trafalgar coat) (Undress coat) (UNI0024)
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