The state funeral of Lord Nelson, 5-9 January 1806
The final farewell
Thousands of spectators gathered around the body in specially erected stands.
Souvenirs of victory
Captured French and Spanish flags were hung from the dome. One of these is shown in this modern photograph.
It belonged to a Spanish battleship and had been captured during the Battle of Trafalgar.
A simple service
The service was simple yet emotional. It was performed within the usual daily service of Evensong.
The ceremony began with the singing of the Burial Sentences as the coffin was carried up the nave and laid in front of the altar.
Immediately behind the coffin came Nelson's male relatives. His young nephew George Matcham recorded in his diary, 'it was the most aweful sight I ever saw'.
After Evensong had been performed the organist played a 'Grand Dirge' composed especially for the occasion.
The coffin was carried back out into the space beneath the dome and replaced on its platform.
The last words were read: 'earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust' and the final anthem sung.
This was an arrangement of one of Handel's choruses, 'His body is buried in peace - but his name liveth evermore!'
Words for a hero
Then the coffin began to sink slowly into the crypt below. As it disappeared, the Chief Herald read out the full titles of the dead man.
He ended with the words, 'The hero, who in the moment of victory, fell covered with immortal glory.'
Then the Officers of Nelson's Household broke their staves and handed them to the Herald, to be thrown into the grave.
Mementos for his sailors
As they did so, the sailors were supposed to fold up the Victory's shot torn colours and place them on a table.
But instead, the sailors ripped off a portion of one of the flags and divided it into smaller pieces to keep as mementos.
|Back to Isambard Kingdom Brunel and steamships|