Nelson celebrations get lottery funding

Merton will now be able to mark its most famous resident, Admiral Nelson with a three-month programme of events designed to celebrate the Lord’s life and times in the borough which he famously described as “my paradise”.

The celebrations get underway immediately with a series of exhibitions, children’s activities and special events. One of the biggest events will be on September 13 when a cast of actors and local school children will recreate Nelson’s last journey when he left his home in Merton Park to head to Portsmouth for what would be his final battle. Writing in his diary on the night of September 13, 1805, as he travelled south, he noted ‘from dear dear Merton where I left all that I hold dear in this World to go to serve my King and Country’.

Further events continue up to December and Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar will be marked with a huge parade from South Wimbledon to the New Wimbledon Theatre where a musical celebrating Nelson’s life and performed by Merton schoolchildren will be running for two days across October 20-21.

The application to receive lottery funding saw the council and partners convincing the Heritage Lottery Fund that the proposals were eligible to fulfill the following criteria:

To raise awareness, through drama, of Nelson’s life and his contribution to our heritage
To mark the residence in Merton of Nelson during the four years before his death at Trafalgar
To give Merton’s young people the chance of experiencing the sea and maritime activities.

The Leader of Merton Council, Andrew Judge was delighted when confirmation of the £50,000 award came through.

“We are very pleased to have been awarded this funding. It is the result of excellent partnership between the council, historical societies, local Nelson enthusiasts and local theatres and arts groups among others. We hope that by the end of 2005 every resident in Merton will know of the significance of Nelson to our local area.”

Merton Council is producing a full colour brochure to highlight the array of Nelson events, which will be available in local libraries from July 17.


Notes to editors:

Nelson moved to Merton in 1801, after he had returned victorious from the Battle of Copenhagen in the Baltic. Desiring ‘a small, neat house from six to 10 miles of London’ in which to set up his scandalous menage a trois with Lady Emma Hamilton and her husband Sir William, he sent her to Merton village, where she found Merton Place, originally a 17th century farm on the old Merton Priory estate whose entrance gates were on the site of th