This curved octagonal board from a carriage door is painted in oils with the armorial bearing of Admiral Lord Nelson following his elevation to the peerage in November 1798 after the Battle of the Nile, when his coat of arms was augmented with the stern of a ship, palm tree and disabled fort in chief . Above the shield an additional crest of the Sultan of Turkey’s chelengk, or Plume of Triumph, on a naval crown; and the stern of the ‘San Josef ‘ , his captured Spanish prize, are depicted below a baron’s coronet. On his supporters, the sailor holds a palm branch and a French tricolor, clearly visible below the victorious red ensign, unfurls from mouth of the lion, while a new motto ‘Palmam Qui Meruit Ferat’ (let him who has earned it bear the palm) is inscribed on a ribbon beneath. 1799.
In January 1799, Nelson wrote to his wife from Sicily asking her to order ‘a neat carriage’ for ‘The King has elevated me and I must support my station’ . By November that year the carriage was ready with Lady Nelson reporting that ‘it is really elegantly neat’ . She also revealed that the new vehicle was a ‘chariot’ , a stylish four-wheel half-body carriage, driven by a coachman and pair of horses, attended by a footman. Lady Nelson also promised not to use the carriage herself until her husband’s return, ‘that I may have the pleasure of seeing you get into it.’ In fact, soon after his eventual return to England in November 1800 the Nelsons separated, their marriage destroyed by his affair with Emma, Lady Hamilton.
On his arrival in London Nelson was feted as a hero and his carriage, adorned with his distinctive coat of arms, was ‘huzzard’ through the streets by crowds of people. Just five years later, however, the ‘private chariot of the deceased Lord– empty–the blinds drawn up’ joined the slow procession to St Paul’s Cathedral for Nelson’s State Funeral following his death at the battle of Trafalgar.