A pilgrimage to Trafalgar Square seems to be the norm for me now, and on every visit to London I make sure I visit at some point. I realise it is the same, I realise nothing much changes, but I love it. Partly because I like to people watch and the steps of the National Gallery provide the perfect seat, and partly because of my naval history geekery.
In 1835 (30 years after the Battle of Trafalgar) the decision was made to rename the plot of land in London now known as Trafalgar Square, originally due to be named for William IV after his coronation.
A few years later, a decision was made to create a lasting monument to Nelson, and the government agreed that this could be placed in Trafalgar Square. A competition was held and the winner, Railton, designed the current column. Although the statue of Nelson at the top was designed by someone else! The general public at the time were, however, not at all impressed and there were a lot of objections. Seems odd now, as it is such a beloved, well known monument. Construction began in 1840, it was built from granite, predominantly sourced from Dartmoor and it took 3 years to complete.
The capital (area underneath the statue of Nelson) is made up of bronze from the wreck of HMS Royal George (Hawke's flagship at Quiberon Bay, but she also saw battle at Cape St. Vincent under Nelson). She sank in Portsmouth whilst undergoing a refit and over 800 people lost their lives.
The four bronze panels around the base of Nelson's Column are made up from melted down French guns and depict The Battle of the Nile (bottom left), The Battle of Cape St Vincent (bottom right), The Battle of Copenhagen (top left) and The Death of Nelson at Trafalgar (top right).
Beatty, Jellicoe and Cunningham
Admiral of the Fleet, famous for commanding the Grand Fleet at the Battle of Jutland in 1916.
Admiral of the Fleet, served at Jutland in 1916, before being promoted to First Sea Lord.
(who I know a little more about due to an interest in The Battle of Taranto, but that's for another day)
Admiral of the Fleet, Commander in Chief of the Mediterranean fleet in WWII, leading a British naval victory at Taranto. He was then also promoted to First Sea Lord.
It used to be the home of the First Sea Lord (Churchill and Mountbatten included) and was used by the Admiralty for a number of years. It's a very spectacular building, soon to be made in to a hotel and apartments, I believe.
If anyone wants to buy me one...