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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Lord Nelson In Bath

Bath in its 18th and early 19th century heyday was the place where most of Britain's elite could be seen at some time during the year.

Monmouth Museum

Members of Britain's upper classes and aristocracy came to Bath for a season to take the waters at The Pump Room, relax and socialize. They attended balls, the theatre and enjoyed readings and card games at the Assembly Rooms.

The restorative power of Bath's waters also drew the many military men wounded in the seemingly endless conflicts of the period especially during the Napoleonic Wars of 1803-1815.

Lord Nelson was one such veteran that spent some of his often brief shore leaves in Bath. Nelson's father Edmund, a vicar from East Anglia, retired to Bath and died there in 1802. Nelson's wife Fanny also maintained a house there as the warmer climate agreed with her after her early life spent in the West Indies.

Nelson first came to Bath in 1780 and he returned in 1797 to seek medical advice for the stump of his right arm which had been amputated after a disastrous attempt to storm Santa Cruz on Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Nelson's arrival was big news and made three of the Bath newspapers. His arm was treated by a surgeon at Bath General Hospital before he left for London and further medical advice.

For fans of Lord Nelson, the Nelson collection at Monmouth Museum features a fine selection of Lord Nelson memorabilia (including Nelson's fighting sword) and outrageous forgeries such as Lord Nelson's glass eye.

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