… The country has gained the most splendid and decisive Victory that has ever graced the naval annals of England: but it has been dearly purchased. The great and gallant Nelson is no more.”
[The Times, 3rd November, 1805]
Inclined as I am towards the old Georgian naval history, it should probably not be the most shocking of revelations that my favourite haunts in the capital are Greenwich Park (scrap that, ALL of Greenwich) & Trafalgar Square. And I can dimly hear the cries of the seasoned Londoners amongst you in disbelief at the latter: “Zounds! What nonsense is this?!” [I’m afraid it is my imagination, and you shall address me according to my own fancy].
Yes, it is almost surrounded by traffic, and yes, most of those who don’t fall into the category of excitable-tourist-clamouring-to-sit-on-a-bronze-lion are probably going to try to sell you a ticket for some sightseeing bus tour or other. However, as night descends, poor harassed old Nelson et al are left in peace and the atmosphere of the place changes entirely. It is quite lovely. Sir Robert Peel, in his day, would have been inclined to agree with me – he even went so far as to proclaim the square as “the finest site in Europe.”
With today being the 205th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar I have brought together an assortment of related links, for your delectation. They are not necessarily directly inspired by the battle itself, but how it has been commemorated by those living in London.
For a look at Trafalgar Square in history, including the biographies of those immortalized there in stone, see the ODNB: http://bit.ly/bNrG2k
Historically, Trafalgar Square has provided a focal point for popular politics & protests. British Pathe holds footage of one such occasion, & 800 Hunger Marchers in 1929. http://bit.ly/cGgwAb
If you’re curious to know what Nelson looks like all the way up there:http://bit.ly/cicPaQ