Britannia Monument in Great Yarmouth
Public Art : Britannia Monument
Also known as: Norfolk Naval Pillar, Nelson's
Architect: © William Wilkins
Description: The Britannia
Monument , dedicated to Admiral Horatio Nelson, is a 144 ft (44 m) high stone Doric column
topped by six caryatid figures that support a statue of Britannia. Britannia proudly stands atop a globe inscribed
with the motto from Nelson’s coat of arms ‘Palmam Qui Meruit Ferat’ (translates to 'Let him who has merited it take
the palm'). In her right outstretched hand she holds an olive branch and in her left a trident. At the base
of the column are inscriptions commemorating Nelson's four main victories over Britain's enemies the French and
The Nile (Aboukir), 1st- 2nd of August 1798 on the HMS Vanguard.
Copenhagen, 1st April, 1801 on the HMS Elephant.
St Vincent, 14th, February 1797 on the HMS Captain.
Trafalgar, 21st October 1805 on the HMS Victory.
The names of the four ships Nelson sailed on for each victory also appear on the top of the
Date Unveiled: Between 1817-1819. The foundation
stone of the Monument was laid on 15th of August, 1817 by the Committee’s Chairman, Hon. Col. John
Funded by: A committee of wealthy locals.
Cost: £6,108 for the pillar and £892 for the
Britannia statue. An additional £3,000 was required for the foundations, thanks to the sandy conditions of the
location, amd also for the building of a Custodian House (occupied by James Sharman until 1867).
Location: Nelson's Monument is located on Monument
Road on the Denes in Great Yarmouth, county of Norfolk, England.
Inscriptions surrounding pillar:
In the early 19th century the ancient language of Latin was still used on important monuments and
This is the meaning of the Latin inscription on the side of the monument.
HORATIO, LORD NELSON
While he lived, Britain , his bravest champion, conscientiously honoured him, and, grieved for him when
With triumph in every clime, he was distinguished for the vigour of his tactics as as the undaunted
warmth of courage.
This Nelson, the terror of the world, Norfolk proudly boasts her own - by birth, linage, and education,
mind, manners, and disposition.
The renown of such a name is longer lasting than brass or stone.
His Norfolk fellow countrymen, at their own expense, raised this monument in order to record that:
He was born in the year 1758, entered the navy in 1771 and was in nearly 150 battles.
He gained , amongst other victories,that of Aboukir, in August 1798, of Copenhagen, in April 1801, of
Trafalgar, in October 1805.
This last splendid achievement was crowned with his death; an event distressing to his country but
honourable and welcome to himself.
The battle of Trafalgar was fought against Napoleaon's fleet on the 21 October 1805. Before the battle,
Nelson sent the signal 'England expects that every man will do his duty.' Nelson died during the
battle, but knew that the British Fleet had won. His last words were reported to have been "Thank God I
have done my duty.'
Background to the Norfolk Naval Pillar:
When word of Lord Nelson's death reached Norfolk the people began discussing a monument
to be erected in his name. By March of 1806, £800 had already been raised through public subscription
but nothing eventuated. It would be 1814 before talk of a monument began circulating once more.Norwich was
chosen as the perfect location and a column would be ideal as a seamark.
Things you may not know about the Britannia Monument in Great
The figure of Britannia and the six caryatids were replaced by a fibreglass copies in 1982.
You can climb up the two hundred and seventeen steps to the top of the monument on selected times of the
The statue of Britannia was rumored to have been erected facing the wrong way. Britannia was intended to face out
to sea but instead faces inland. It is said she is facing towards Burnham Thorpe , Nelson's birthplace .
The monument was originally planned to mark Nelson's victory at the Battle of the Nile, but fund-raising was not
completed until after his death.
This was the first monument in England dedicated to Admiral Lord Nelson.
The original stone Caryatids were removed around 1895-1897 and replaced by concrete ones.
The Britannia Monument restoration began on August 2nd 2004, and was completed on
October 20th 2005 a day before the bicentenary of Trafalgar.
When the column was first built it stood in the centre of the Race Track built for the East Norfolk
Militia to exercise their horses.
In 1817, James Sharman was appointed “Keeper of the Pillar”, and looked after the Monument for 50
years until his death in 1867 at the age of 82. Sharman had claimed that during the Battle of Trafaglar he had
helped in carrying a fatally wounded Nelson below decks.
This was not the only Nelson memorial by Wilkins. He also designed Nelson's Column that stood
in Dublin from 1809 until it was destroyed by an IRA group in 1966.
Rumour Alert : A popular story that has been
circulating for years claims the architect, William Wilkins, leapt to his death from the top of the pillar
when he discovered that Britannia was facing the “wrong” way. This was not true, it was the Superintendent of
Works, Thomas Sutton, who had a heart attack and died at the top of the pillar while inspecting the monument in
Thanks to Robin for taking the time during her holidays to send me the
References : http://www.nelsonsmonument.org.uk