Designed by architect William Wilkins, it was raised in the period 1817-1819 from money raised by a committee of local magnates.
The first custodian of the monument was former Able Seaman James Sharman, a member of the crew of the Victory from Norfolk and one of those who carried Nelson below decks after he was shot.
The Grade 1 monument, correctly called the Norfolk Naval Pillar, is in the style of a Doric column topped by six caryatid figures that support a statue of Britannia proudly standing 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'), she holds an olive branch in her outstretched right hand, a trident in her left and looks inland - said to be towards Nelson's birthplace. The whole monument is 144 ft (44 m) high, compared to 169 ft (52 m) for the monument in Trafalgar Square and the top is reached by some two hundred and seventeen steps. The structure was completely restored in time for the bicentenary of the Battle of Trafalgar in 2005. In 2006 it was removed from English Heritage's Buildings At Risk register. In August 2006 it was rededicated. It currently stands, albeit separated in its own small railed plot, in an industrial estate. The monument is open to the public on a limited basis.
In the late nineteenth century, the original synthetic Coade Stone caryatids were replaced with concrete replicas. The figure of Britannia and the six caryatids were replaced by a fibreglass copy in 1982.
- The Nile (Aboukir), 1, 2 August 1798, HMS Vanguard
- Copenhagen, 1 April 1801, HMS Elephant
- St Vincent, 14 February 1797, HMS Captain
- Trafalgar, 21 October 1805, HMS Victory
On the top plinth are named four of the ships he sailed on for each battle.
On the western face - i.e. inland again - a Latin inscription reads: "This great man Norfolk boasts her own, not only as born there of a respectable family, and as there having received his early education, but her own also in talents, manners and mind."
There is a song called "Nelson's Monument" which refers to the monument.
- Nelson Monument, Edinburgh
- Nelson Monument, Liverpool
- Nelson's Monument on Birchen Edge, in England's Peak District
- Nelson's Column, London
- Nelson's Pillar, Dublin
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