Naval Temple restoration at The Kymin

The new Britannia on top of the Naval Temple, The Kymin, Monmouth, Wales

Inspired by Britain’s naval supremacy at the height of the British Empire, the Naval Temple at The Kymin in Monmouth, South Wales, has undergone many transformations since its inception in 1800.

Believed to be the only one of its kind in the world, the Naval Temple was built by public subscription in 1800 in recognition of the British Navy and 16 admirals in particular, who had delivered significant victories in major sea battles.

It was completed in 1801 and visited by Lord Nelson, one of the admirals celebrated on the monument, with Lady Hamilton and Sir William Hamilton in 1802. Indeed, it’s likely that the inspiration for the Naval Temple came from Nelson’s spectacular destruction of the French fleet at the Battle of the Nile in 1798.

A sad decline

Changes were made to the Naval Temple in the early half of the 19th century, most notably the addition of a veranda. But by the middle of the century, the structure had fallen into a state of disrepair with many features lost, and by 1850 the whole of The Kymin was considered to be in a deplorable state.

The Kymin Improvement Committee was set up around 1851 and attempts to restore the Naval Temple were made in 1882.

Triumphant restoration

The Kymin was given to the National Trust in 1902, and the Grade II listed Naval Temple underwent a major restoration in 1987. The veranda was removed, missing plaques restored and the lost Britannia was replaced with a replica.

But severe weather, particularly during the winters of 2009 to 2010 and 2010 to 2011 resulted in serious damage to the building.

In 2012, we undertook an £85,000, three-month project to restore the Naval Temple to its original glory, with the help of Cadw, Monmouth Royal Naval Association, Gwent National Trust Association and Anna Tribe, Lord Nelson’s descendant.

The Naval Temple’s restoration was completed with the two magnificent paintings in the triumphal arch, ‘The Standard of Great Britain waving triumphant over the fallen and captive flags of France, Spain and Holland’ and ‘The Glorious and Ever Memorable Battle of the Nile’; and a newly sculpted Britannia lowered into pride of place atop the monument.

Grand re-opening

We celebrated a grand re-opening of the newly restored Naval Temple on 1 August 2012, exactly 211 years after its official opening on 1 August 1801, and will continue to preserve this unique monument forever, for everyone.