Battle won on Kymin Naval Temple restoration

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The Naval Temple at the Kymin, near Monmouth in South-East Wales, is the only memorial in existence that celebrates an entire navy and is a wonderful reminder of the national pride felt towards the British Navy at the end of the 18th century. It was built in 1800-01 and is now a Grade II listed building.

One of our specialist teams has recently completed the restoration to return the Naval Temple to its early 19th-century appearance. It took more than a year to complete in 2011 and 2012.

Grants from Cadw and generous donations from local associations and private individuals helped bring the Temple back to its appearance when Lord Nelson himself visited in 1802.

New paintings

An important element of the restoration was the commissioning of the two new paintings to sit atop the Temple. Local artist and volunteer at The Kymin, Laura Stevens, was chosen to create them.

Unfortunately the original paintings were lost in the 19th century, but we knew the titles of the paintings from a contemporary account of the Temple. Our team carried out research with the National Maritime Museum to work out what the paintings could have looked like.

The scene of 'the glorious and ever-memorable Battle of the Nile' depicts dawn on 2 August 1798, the day on which Nelson defeated the French in Aboukir Bay, Egypt. The victory ended Napoleon’s plans to capture India and cut off England’s lucrative trade with the sub-continent.

Laura’s new painting is based on a print etched by J. W. Edy in 1799, taken from a painting by maritime painter Thomas Whitcomb. It was chosen because it is one of the more dynamic and exciting images of the battle, and would have been widely distributed at the time. Therefore we felt that it could have provided inspiration for the local artist who would have painted the originals.

Lord Nelson

Lord Nelson visited The Kymin in 1802, and it is recorded that he declared: 'It was not only one of the most beautiful places he had ever seen, but, to the boast of Monmouth, the Temple was the only monument of the kind erected to the English Navy, in the whole range of the kingdom.. and for which the Admirals, whose services are here recorded, are very much obliged to you.'

Emma Jones, our curator for The Kymin said: 'The project to restore the Temple was great fun; we had to carry out a lot of research to ensure that the details are accurate, but the work has paid off. The Naval Temple now looks fabulous, and much as it would have done when it was built in 1800.'

  • Further information on the restoration of the Naval Temple can be found in the October 2012 edition of the National Trust ABC bulletin.