is a monument
in Trafalgar Square
Origins and design
The column was built between 1840 and 1843 to commemorate Admiral Horatio Nelson
's death at the Battle of Trafalgar
in 1805. The 5.5 m (18 ft) statue of Nelson stands on top of a 46 m (151 ft) granite
column. The statue faces south, towards the Palace of Westminster
with the Mall
on his right flank where Nelson's ships are represented on the top of each flagpole. The top of the Corinthian
column (based on one from the Temple of Mars Ultor
) is decorated with bronze acanthus
leaves cast from British cannon. The square pedestal
is decorated with four bronze
panels, cast from captured French guns, depicting Nelson's four great victories.
The monument was designed by architect William Railton in 1838, and built by the firm Peto & Grissell. Railton's original 1:22-scale stone model is exhibited at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London. The sandstone statue at the top was sculpted by E.H. Baily, a member of the Royal Academy; a small bronze plaque crediting him is at the base of the statue. The four bronze panels around the pedestal were undertaken by the sculptors Musgrave Watson, John Ternouth, William F Woodington, and John Edward Carew. The entire monument was built at a cost of 47,500 pounds, or 3.5 million pounds in 2004 terms (roughly $6.1 million US).
The four lions, by Sir Edwin Landseer, at the column's base were added in 1867.
In 1925 a Scottish confidence trickster, Arthur Furguson
, "sold" the famous landmark to an unknowing American tourist for £6,000 claiming it was for sale to pay off Britain's war loan to the United States. (He also sold Big Ben
and Buckingham Palace
The Column's symbolic importance is reflected in Hitler's plans for it. If Operation Sealion, Hitler's plan to invade Britain, had worked, he intended to move the Column to Berlin.
The tower has been climbed on several occasions as a publicity stunt
to draw attention to a social or political cause. Ed Drummond
made the first such climb in 1979 for the Anti-Apartheid Movement, making use of the lightning conductor on route. On 13 April 1995 Johnny Dawes
free-climbed Nelson's Column with Noel Craine, Jerry Moffat
and Simon Nadin, and graded
the climb as "E6 6b/5a". The protest this time was on behalf of Survival International
to publicise the plight of Canada's Inuit people. In May 2003 BASE jumper
and stuntman Gary Connery
parachuted from the top of the column to draw attention to the Chinese occupation of Tibet
John Noakes of the BBC TV children's programme Blue Peter climbed the column in the late 1970s.
The column was refurbished in 2006, during which time it was scaffolded from top to bottom for access. Steam cleaning was used together with gentle abrasives to minimise any harmful impact on the brass and stonework. The work was performed by David Ball Restoration Ltd. of Peckham
, South London. The £420,000 cost was met by Zurich Financial Services
, which advertised on the scaffolding for the duration of the work. Before restoration began, laser surveys were taken during which it was found that the column was significantly shorter than the usually quoted 56 m (185 ft). In fact, it is only 50 m (169 5 in) from the bottom of the first step on the pedestal to the tip of the admiral's hat.
Other monuments to Nelson
- Nelson's Needle on top Portsdown Hill in Portsmouth, paid for by the company of HMS Victory after arriving back in Portsmouth.
- The first civic monument to be erected in Nelson's honour was a 44-metre high obelisk on Glasgow Green in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1806.
- In the Bull Ring, Birmingham, England, there is a Grade II* listed bronze statue of Nelson by Richard Westmacott, dating from 1809.
- In Dublin, Ireland, Nelson's Pillar, was erected in 1808 and destroyed by the IRA in 1966.
- In Edinburgh, Scotland, Nelson's Monument is a tower commemorating Admiral Horatio Nelson, on top of Calton Hill
- In Montreal, Quebec, is a Nelson column at Place Jacques-Cartier erected by the merchants of the city in 1809.
- A column, topped with a decorative urn, in the Castle Green, Hereford. A statue was planned in place of the urn but insufficient money was raised. BBC site with photograph.
- The Britannia Monument, Great Yarmouth, England (1819) is a 144 feet high doric column design.
- A much shorter Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square, Bridgetown, Barbados is believed to be older than its taller and famous counterpart in London.
- Nelson's Tower in Forres, Morayshire
Nelson's four victories