The Nelson Monument, Portsdown Hill

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The Nelson Monument
Nelson's Monument,portsdown hill,5-7-2018.jpg
DesignerJohn Thomas Groves
TypeVictory Column
Completion date1808
Dedicated toHoratio Nelson

The Nelson Monument, 120 feet (37 m) tall on a granite base,[1] stands on Portsdown Hill about 2 miles (3.2 km) north of Portsmouth Harbour on the south coast of England. It was the eventual outcome of a movement started during Horatio Nelson's lifetime to “perpetuate the glorious victories of the British Navy.”[2] By 1799 Nelson's prize agent Alexander Davison was able to use the Nelson name to spearhead a campaign,[3] to honour “Britain’s naval glory and pre-eminence”. It was, however, Nelson’s death at Trafalgar, 21 October 1805, that galvanized the campaign.[4]

A design for the monument by John Thomas Groves of the Board of Works was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1807,[5] and letters were written to The Times asking where the money Davison had raised had gone,[6] but the £4050 he raised was never recovered.[7] The final (and successful) attempt was paid for by the Navy itself.[8] This time the fund’s driving force, Captain Thomas Fremantle, adopted a more altruistic approach,[9] and the monument commenced construction on 4 July 1807[10] with the final checks to the inscription[11] made just over a year later.

Today it is within the boundaries of Fareham Borough Council.[12] The nearby Fort Nelson, Portsmouth, completed in 1871 as another Napoleon threatened England's South Coast, is so named because of its proximity to the monument.[13]


  1. ^ Pocock,T., Horatio Nelson (London, Brockhampton) 1987 ISBN 1-86019-908-9
  2. ^ Howarth, D. and S. Howarth, Nelson: The Immortal Memory (Uxbridge: Corgi) 2004 ISBN 0-552-15085-1
  3. ^ The Alexander Davison Collection, Sotheby's, October 21, 2002 Letter to Nelson to inform him of a Committee formed by The Duke of Clarence, The Prime Minister and others to examine proposals for a national monument.
  4. ^ Padfield, P., Nelson’s War (Ware: Wordsworth) 1976 ISBN 1-84022-225-5
  5. ^ Colvin, Howard, A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600-1840, (Yale University Press) 3rd ed. 1995, s.v. "John Thomas Groves".
  6. ^ The matter was eventually brought before Parliament (The Times, Wednesday, April 26, 1809; pg. 2; Issue 7656; col B "Houses Of Commons"; Tuesday, April 25. "Abuse Of Patronage".
  7. ^ Downer, M., Nelson’s Purse: The mystery of Lord Nelson’s Lost Treasures (Uxbridge, Corgi) 2004 ISBN 0-552-15085-1
  8. ^ Naval subscriptions Archived 2007-05-03 at
  9. ^ Smith, J., The Nelson Monument Portsdown Hill: a seamark re-discovered (Portsmouth, The Nelson Society) 2007 ISBN 978-0-9537200-6-4
  10. ^ Smith, J., The story of Nelson’s Portsmouth (Tiverton,:Halsgrove) 2005 ISBN 1-84114-476-2
  11. ^ Details of inscription
  12. ^ Local Council Details
  13. ^ Reason for name

50°51′38″N 1°08′03″W / 50.86056°N 1.13417°W / 50.86056; -1.13417Coordinates: 50°51′38″N 1°08′03″W / 50.86056°N 1.13417°W / 50.86056; -1.13417