1. Sep, 2020

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When the three of them returned to England they lived together in a house in Piccadilly, London before moving to Merton Place, a house near Wandsworth. They rebuilt it on a grand scale and Emma turned it into a temple of Nelson worship. His fame and the admiration in which he was held in the navy and in the nation at large, rose to Mount Everest proportions. Emma basked in it and his death in action at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 was a catastrophe. When the news was brought to her at Merton Place, she wrote some days later that she ‘screamed and fell back’ and could not speak for about ten hours. She did not know how she was to bear her future existence. At the end of November she wrote: ‘Life to me is not worth having. I lived for him. His glory I gloried in ... But I cannot go on. My heart and head are gone.’

The government, which lavished money and honours on Nelson’s family, ignored Emma. Lord Hamilton had left her money when he died in 1803, as did Nelson, who also left her Merton Place, but his brother William, now an earl, avoided handing over all the money and by now Emma, accustomed to a life of champagne-swilling luxury, was addicted to alcohol. She had to sell Merton Place and in 1813 she was arrested for debt and sent to prison in Southwark, though she was allowed to live in rooms nearby with young daughter Horatia. 

Friends eventually raised money that let Emma sneak away across the Channel to Calais with daughter Horatia in July 1814. They lived in cramped, dismal lodgings and, according to Horatia, Emma spent her days lying in bed, drinking. It was probably cirrhosis of the liver that carried her off early the following year at the age of 49. She was buried in the graveyard of the Church of St Pierre and it is said that her funeral was attended out of respect for Nelson by the captains of every English ship in Calais harbour. In 1994 a memorial to her was unveiled in what is now the Parc Richelieu in Calais.

I don’t know what became of Nelson’s family members but I believe his well-hung nephew ‘Willie’ Nelson, went on to become a Country singer in America.

Unfortunately I've had to lift pictures of the Lord Nelson pub from the internet as it is currently closed and having a major update, including a large extension which will be the restaurant. When it eventually re-opens I'll hope to visit again, take new pictures and swap them with those I've posted.

I was a little concerned about whether the refurbishement would destroy the historic feel of the pub, but having begged a quick look inside from the builders I must say that when it's finished it's going to be something very special with a very sympathetic restoration of the main pub. These places are first and foremost businesses and they have to pay their way, hence the need for the restaurant. Business in the past would have declined due to the fact that folk around here probably prefer to spend their evenings in the woods drinking 'Moonshine' with their neighbours 12-year old daughter sat on their knee. When the pub re-opens in March 2021, go check it out if you're passing this way.

This evening we were due to spend the night at a small local campsite however thus far we have been unable to contact the owners, so if all else fails we're hoping we can spend the night on a farmer's concrete hardstanding, used for storing sugar beet, just around the corner.

Tomorrow we are making our way just down the road to a large campsite at Wells-next-the-sea for three nights. It wouldn't normally be our choice of site that's for sure, but unfortunately the small local site near the village centre is fully booked until the end of October.