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29 October 2014

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Great Yarmouth

Painting on Nelson dying by Samuel Drummond.
Nelson dying on the Victory

Norfolk Nelson Museum

A museum to celebrate the life of Norfolk's most famous son, Horatio Nelson, is the only one in the country to solely honour the admiral.

Fact File

  • The Norfolk Nelson Museum is at 26 South Quay, Great Yarmouth. Tel: 01493 850 698
  • The museum is open until 31 October 2005, Monday to Friday from 10am to 5pm and 2pm to 5pm on Saturdays and Sundays with bookings for tours taken. It re-opens on 1 April 2006.
  • There is full access for the disabled.
  • Admission is £2.90 for adults, £1.50 for children, £2.40 for concessions or £7 for families.
  • The museum's trust patron, the Duke Of Edinburgh, officially opened the venue on 18 July 2002.
  • 21 October 2005 is the bicentenary of the Battle Of Trafalgar.

The Norfolk Nelson Museum boasts around 900 items dedicated to the naval hero from letters, books and ceramics to paintings, medals and a piece of wood from the Victory.

The museum on South Quay shows what Horatio Nelson's life was like below the decks through sights, sounds and even smells.

Interactive displays

A replica of a boat houses an interactive display where children can climb into hammocks, hear Nelson's commands and the commotion on board a battleship and see the crew's meagre daily rations and smell cannon-fire.

Nelson's time in battle is balanced with an insight into his personal life. A room has been recreated from the admiral's home at Merton Place in Surrey.

A wax model of Nelson sits at a desk, and glass cases feature keepsakes and letters.

Ben Burgess

The museum was the brainchild of the well-known Nelson enthusiast Ben Burgess, who lived in Norwich.

His father had a keen interest in Nelson, but Ben's own interest was fired after he attended his hero's school, the Paston in North Walsham.

Before his death in 2000, Mr Burgess set up the Ben Burgess Nelson Memorabilia Trust to raise money for a museum so his family's 600-piece collection would remain in the county.

South Quay

The trustees spent six years looking for a suitable building before plumping for the one on Great Yarmouth's South Quay.

The village sign at Burnham Thorpe.
The village sign at Burnham Thorpe

The group decided to display the collection in Great Yarmouth rather than Nelson's birthplace of Burnham Thorpe or Norwich because of the admiral's close maritime links with the town.

Nelson would have been familiar with the South Quay building.

He landed at the port when he returned from the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801 and the North Sea Fleet operated from the town during the Napoleonic War.

The museum cost around £750,000 to set up - and it needs to be funded by donations to both remain open and host touring exhibitions.

Volunteers are also needed to staff the museum and run educational projects.

Lessons in history

Education is an important focus of the museum's vision. Children can attend activity days: in the Naval Room they can play battle games and copy Nelson's signature, while in the Below Decks Experience they can find how people used to live in Georgian times by opening up information panels on the cut-out models.

"I think schools really liven up a museum. Also Nelson is an individual and in the National Curriculum, projects can be done on individual heroes," said museum curator Faith Carpenter.

A-level and degree students can also use the museum's library, which includes a manuscript draft of an important biography written by Admiral Mahan in 1897, bought in New York.

"We've got all the books here, we've got pictures - it's perfect as a resource," she added.

Top exhibits

Toleware snuff box.
The curator's favourite: a snuff box

The exhibition's showpiece is a large oil painting by Samuel Drummond which shows the dying Nelson being carried below the Victory's decks. It was bought in Ireland by the Ben Burgess collection.

However, the curator's favourite piece is an 1804 Toleware snuff box which is on display in the Naval Room.

"It has a little lid with a Nelson picture on and it is so naive - even crude," says Faith Carpenter.

"It's got a long neck and a big circular head and it's really sweet," she added.

last updated: 18/10/05
Have Your Say
Have you been to the Norfolk Nelson Museum? Leave your thoughts here.
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Matthew Monaghan
I recently came across a hand written letter by Horatio Nelson, that fell out of an antique book that I have. The letter is dated 1782 and is from Albemarle, NY. Addressed...Dear Pilford, I am assuming that it was sent to Lieutenant John Pilford. It speaks of Nelson having met the Prince aboard the Barfleur. I have compared the signature on this letter to some others I have seen on the internet, and they seem to match. Is there any way you could help me to authenticate this. Ultimately, I am wondering what the value of this is. Thank you. Matt Monaghan

I have looked for hours on the computer trying to buy a model of lord nelsons home or one of his homes.I would appreciate your assistance..H Keen

Sylvie Nelson
We visited the Norfolk Nelson Museum in April 2006 and loved it. As a distant relative to Lord Nelson, this was our first visit to the UK and we certainly wanted to retrace the steps of our famous relative! A visit to the museum was therefore a must. We enjoyed the various exhibits and items related to Lord Nelson. And we enjoyed a nice picnic in the outside court yard.

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