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Funeral Procession of the Late Lord Viscount Nelson from Greenwich to Whitehall

Date: 1806
475 x 605 mm, 0.3 kg
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Engraving
Object No: 00019635
Place Manufactured:London

User Terms

    A coloured aquatint depicting a panoramic view of Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson's funeral procession, engraved by Hill after a work by Pugin. Nelson's funeral barge can be seen in the foreground on the River Thames as his coffin was rowed up to the Admiralty from Greenwich on a royal barge, accompanied by over 60 boats, including a variety of Admiralty and City Livery barges.

    In the central foreground, a barge flying the red ensign fires a salute. Boats of the Sea Fencibles, a corps of naval reserves, line the route. Greenwich Hospital (now Greenwich University) is in the background with the Royal Observatory in the distance. The view is shown from the aspect of the Isle of Dogs.

    Nelson's coffin was placed in one of the royal barges originally made for King Charles II. Its gilding and paint were shrouded in black velvet and a large canopy erected over the stern was surmounted by black ostrich feathers.

    After Nelson died at Trafalgar, his body was, by his own request, placed in a cask and preserved in brandy and raw alcohol. On the return of his body to England, it was taken to Greenwich, where it rested in state between 4-7 January, 1806. On 8 January, 1806 seamen from HMS VICTORY carried his coffin to the funeral barge to begin the procession up the Thames to the Admiralty, and his funeral at St Paul's Cathedral on the 9th.

    SignificanceThe Nelson Funeral was unprecedented - he was the first non-royal to be granted a state funeral. His significance to Australia lies in the legendary standards Nelson set for valour, discipline and naval strategy. They remain important traditions in those navies, like Australia's, which were formed in the British mould.
    HistoryAdmiral Lord Nelson is considered the greatest naval hero in British history and his death at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 plunged the country into mourning. His corpse arrived back in England in a cask of brandy and raw alcohol and was taken to Greenwich on 5 January 1806. There it was placed in a lead coffin which was then placed inside another wooden one made from the mast of L'ORIENT - salvaged (on Nelson's orders) after the Battle of the Nile (1798).

    Nelson's body lay in state in the Painted Hall at Greenwich Hospital for three days, where tens of thousands of people from all walks of life filed past the remains of their beloved naval hero. There were so many mourners that the authorities were fearful a riot could break out at any time, brought on by nothing more than grief over Nelson. Black hangings covered the vivid wall paintings and brightly coloured shields and coats of arms gleamed in the glow from hundreds of candles. The coffin was surrounded with trophies, including captured French and Spanish flags.

    On the 8th his remains were placed in the royal barge originally made for King Charles II and taken up river, accompanied by Lord Hood, Sir Peter Parker and the Prince of Wales. The Prince at first announced his intention to attend the funeral as chief mourner, but later attended in a private capacity with his brothers when his father King George III reminded him that it was against protocol for the Heir to the Throne to attend the funerals of anyone except members of the Royal Family.

    The City Livery Companies attended the procession in their own ceremonial barges, to make the procession from Greenwich to Whitehall the most exciting spectacle ever to have been seen on the river Thames. Disembarking at Whitehall they proceeded to the Admiralty, where the body of Lord Nelson, attended by his chaplain Alexander Scott, who had been with Nelson when he died, remained overnight.

    The next day, 9 January, a funeral procession of 32 admirals, over a hundred captains, and an escort of 10,000 troops took the coffin from the Admiralty to St Paul's Cathedral. Along the processional route there was a reverenced silence from the huge crowds that had assembled in the streets and in the stands which had been specially erected to accommodate the throng. Mourners occupied every conceivable vantage point in order to witness this overwhelmingly sad spectacle.

    After a four-hour service Nelson was laid to rest within an Italian marble sarcophagus presented by King George III from the Royal Collection.

    Additional Titles

    Primary title: Funeral Procession of the Late Lord Viscount Nelson from Greenwich to Whitehall

    Web title: Funeral Procession of the Late Lord Viscount Nelson from Greenwich to Whitehall

    Related People
    Engraver: John Hill
    Publisher: James Cundee

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