“I am a Norfolk man and I glory in being so!” To celebrate Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery’s fantastic exhibition this summer all about Norfolk’s home-grown hero, Admiral Lord Nelson, we’ve selected our favourite ‘Nelson-themed things to do’!
Image: Admiral Lord Nelson, painted in 1801 by William Beechey (1753-1839), Oil on canvas, (261.4 cm x 182.6 cm) © Norfolk Museums Service
FIRSTLY: THE EXHIBITION ITSELF, OF COURSE!
Image: The Ensign of Le Généreux – conservation cleaning. Photographed at St Andrew’s Hall, Norwich in October 2016 © Norfolk Museums Service
The Nelson & Norfolk exhibition will bring an array of fascinating artefacts and objects which together tell the story of Nelson’s adventures and achievements. He has a reputation across the world as playing a key part in what is potentially the single most important global event of the 19th century: The Battle of Trafalgar.
Some of the objects on display are significant loans from other museums as well as fantastic artefacts from the Norfolk Museum Service’s own collections, and will include a uniform worn by a Greenwich Volunteer who guarded Nelson’s coffin during his two day lying-in-state, the black velvet drape from his funeral car, a model of the funeral barge made by a French prisoner of war at Norman Cross, and plenty of other memorabilia from Nelson’s funeral. One of the most important pieces, however, is the incredibly important ensign of the French warship Le Généreux. This vessel took part in the 1798 Battle of the Nile and was a success, cementing Nelson’s reputation as a British hero! The flag itself measures 16m x 8.3m which is roughly the same size as a tennis court – so it’s huge in more ways than one! We’re also incredibly excited to see the sword which Spanish Admiral Xavier Winthuysen gave to Nelson after the Battle of Cape St Vincent in 1797. You can see this sword in some impressive portraits of Nelson, commissioned in 1801 by the City of Norwich, which also feature in the exhibition.
CASTLE-BASED FAMILY FUN
To accompany the exhibition and help educate young visitors, the Castle are holding some great activities and events over the summer. Ranging from ship exploration, sword school and flag signal workshops to sea monsters and craft sessions, there’ll be plenty to keep children amused over the summer and educate them on this great Norfolk hero! Stay tuned for a full list of children's events accompanying the Nelson exhibition on the Norfolk Museums website.
ON THE WATER
Image: Herbert Woods
Make like Nelson and get out on the water this summer! We suggest hiring a boat as the base for your holiday; Herbert Woods, Ferry Marina, and Norfolk Broads Direct operate from a range of locations. Alternatively take to the water just for a day with any of the above providers, or with Broads Tours; all these companies offer day boat hire, so you can see the countryside and nature of The Broads for the length of time that suits you! Broads Tours also host special boat-based events throughout the year, including jazz evenings, ‘Boogie on the Broads’, seasonal boat trips, and more.
VISIT SOME KEY NELSON SPOTS
Join one of Norwich Tourist Information Centre’s tours with a qualified blue badge guide; they run an array of great tours around the city, but let us direct you to their ‘In The Footsteps of Nelson’ special tour in particular. Taking place at 11am on Friday 11 August, you’ll learn lots more about Nelson as well as exploring the city ‘as it would have been during Nelson’s time’. A great accompaniment to the exhibition – why not take the tour and then head into the exhibition afterwards? Tickets £5.00 (under 11 year olds go free).
MAKE YOUR OWN TOUR
Image: The Maids Head Hotel's 'Nelson's Golden Apple' cocktail
If you can’t make the tour on that day then why not take your own trail of Nelson’s Norfolk? There’s quite a few miles to cover.
Visit Norwich Cathedral, the home of the Norwich School, which Nelson attended (then named King Edward VI’s Grammar School). There’s a statue of him outside the school in Upper Close which was erected in 1847 and is now Grade II listed! Take a walk around the Cathedral Close, head through Erpingham Gate and cross the road to The Maids Head.
The Maids Head Hotel claims to be the oldest hotel in Britain. The claim is based on the hotel’s site being used continuously for hospitality since the early 12th century. The hotel can trace its origins to a guest house established by the early Norman Bishop’s of Norwich for visitors to the Cathedral. It’s said that in the hotel bar is where Nelson drank his first alcoholic beverage! The bar has also started stocking Norfolk’s Wild Knight English Vodka, and in particular an aptly-named spirit called Nelson’s Gold – a tasty-sounding combination of Wild Knight English Vodka and caramelised East Anglian sugar beet! To celebrate this, try a 'Nelson’s Golden Apple', the new cocktail which the historic Maids Head bar have created and which is now on sale. It's a combination of Nelson’s Gold vodka, fresh apple juice and cinnamon syrup, shaken and served in a chilled martini glass and garnished with apple - delicious!
Continue your Nelson discoveries with a trip outside of Norwich to visit the Nelson Museum in Great Yarmouth, on the coast; this is the only museum dedicated completely to telling the story of Nelson. The town has various links to him: it’s a port with many pubs (and many of Nelson’s navy men were recruited from port towns); it had a hospital for sailors which was visited by Nelson; he landed in Great Yarmouth on 6 May 1800 with his mistress, Lady Emma Hamilton; and The Wrestlers’ Inn was the site of his well-known speech about his pride in being a Norfolk man. You can also see the country’s first column dedicated to Nelson (it pre-dated the Trafalgar column by 21 years and is a Grade I listed statue). On Sundays only in July and August, the 43-metre-high monument will be opened for the public to climb all 217 steps, amazing views out over the town are your reward! £3 per person, open 10am to 3pm.
Finally head west along to the North Norfolk coast and visit Nelson’s place of birth, Burnham Thorpe (close to the North Norfolk coast). Stop for a drink at The Nelson - it would be rude not to!
COMING TO VISIT?
Greater Anglia have Advance fares from £9 one way between London Liverpool Street and Norwich. Trains run every 30 minutes. Greater Anglia also serves Colchester, Ipswich and Diss on the Norwich line. Direct trains also run from Cambridge.
East Midlands Trains runs services from Liverpool, Manchester and Nottingham.
Flights into Norwich served from Edinburgh, Manchester, Exeter, Aberdeen, Jersey*, Guernsey* and Amsterdam.