Admiral Nelson's visit to The Kymin

Horatio Nelson, Viscount Nelson (1758-1805) by George Keating

In 1802 The Kymin in Monmouth played host to Admiral Horatio Nelson, who to this day remains the most famous guest to have dined at the Round House.

A hero’s welcome

As was fashionable at the time, with the popular Wye Tour, Lord Nelson travelled down the River Wye from Ross-on-Wye to Monmouth, accompanied by the infamous Lady Hamilton and her husband Sir William.

They alighted at Monmouth to cannonades firing, the town band playing and were greeted by the mayor, all the local dignitaries of the county and cheering crowds of locals.

During their two-day stay in the town, on 19 August 1802, Nelson and the Hamiltons breakfasted in the Round House and admired the views.

They also spent time at the Naval Temple, a particularly poignant visit given that its creation was likely inspired by Nelson’s own celebrated victory at the Battle of the Nile in 1798, which is the subject of one of the temple’s triumphal arch paintings, and that he is one of the 16 admirals commemorated on the monument.

The only monument of its kind

Charles Heath, a citizen of Monmouth, recorded Nelson’s visit and observed him as he inspected the Naval Temple: “On his Lordship's arrival at this part of the building, he surveyed, with an opera glass which he held in his hand, this representation of his fame with the most calm emotion, as though it had been accomplished by another officer, - after pausing on it for some minutes, he directed his attention to other interesting objects around him.”

Afterwards Nelson commented that: “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 its kind erected to the English Navy in the whole range of the Kingdom.”

That the Naval Temple was erected not in one of Britain’s major naval ports but in a small provincial county town in Wales, far from the sea and with no great naval or seafaring traditions, stayed with Nelson.

Nelson’s Column would not be built until 1843, nearly 40-years after his death at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

Today, the Naval Temple is newly restored and we plan to continue to preserve this special monument so future generations can walk in the footsteps of Nelson at The Kymin.