Residents of Monmouth and visitors to the area can find out about the life, loves, death and commemoration of the famous admiral Horatio Nelson through a large number of displays relating to the heroic military leader. Weapons, pictures, fine ceramics, silver and glass, ships models and letters all relating to Nelson’s life are covered in the Nelson Museum, providing a deeper insight into his whole life, rather than attractions such as the HMS Victory, Nelson’s flagship at Trafalgar where he died in 1805.
Although Horatio Nelson was born in Norfolk, and died at sea, and was subsequently buried in St. Paul’s Cathedral – Monmouth still has strong links to the admiral. In 1802 he visited the Kymin for a dinner, and was apparently the site of his wooing of Lady Hamilton. As a result, Monmouth is now home to a magnificent collection of Nelson material.
As well as telling the story of Nelson, the history of the ancient Wye Valley market town is also illustrated in displays throughout the same building. As a local history centre as well, the museum provides a hub of local information and details about the development of Monmouth within the wider context of the British Isles.
Charles Stuart Rolls, co-founder of Rolls-Royce, lived near Monmouth and his exploits in balloons, early motor cars and aeroplanes can be seen in the History Centre through a sequence of interactive displays and artefacts.
Founded in 1924, the Nelson Museum began as a result of a bequest to Monmouth by Lady Llangattock of her private collection relating to the famous admiral. Since that point, the museum’s collection grew significantly, requiring a much larger site, and so moved to the current premises in 1969. The site of the Nelson museum was a former market hall built in the 1830s, and when it transferred to its current location, other local history collections for the town were incorporated.
Although not extensively covered, there is also information about King Henry V, another famous son of Monmouth, and sometimes known as Henry of Monmouth. Immortalised in the 1599 play by William Shakespeare, with Kenneth Branagh portraying him in the 1989 adaptation, Henry V is best known for his triumphant win against overwhelming odds at the battle of Agincourt in 1415.
There are a range of academic publications and resources available from the museum shop, and the office also has a selection of resources that can be accessed as part of historical research. Adult lectures and courses are also held at the Nelson Museum throughout the year.
Found on Priory Street in the heart of Monmouth, also known as the B4293, the Nelson Museum is situated on the banks of the River Monnow. It is conveniently placed next to the town’s castle and regimental museum, the priory, Shire Hall and Savoy Theatre, providing Monmouth with something of a historical quarter.