Nelson at Worcester

  • 15 Jan 2012
  • Worcester People and Places
  • Back
It was at the Hop Pole Inn that Nelson stayed on his memorable visit to Worcester. The coming of Nelson had not been anticipated; but during the afternoon of Sunday 26th August, 1802, a rumour of his approach spread amongst the citizens - for which mine host of the Hop Pole Hotel was probably responsible, for it was there were Nelson had bespokern rooms.
People gathered rapidly in thousands. They lined the streets of the town and every window and other vantage point's was occupied. The citizens were accustomed to Royal guests, for the Prince of Wales and his brothers were often here, but Nelson loomed larger in the public eye. His crowning victory had yet to come, but he was the hero of the Nile, and Copenhagen and many a lesser fight now forgotten.
Towards six in the evening the carriage came in sight, and near the bridge it was pounced upon by eager hands. The horses were removed, strong men yoked themselves to the veicle, and amidst the enthusiastic plaudits of the crowd, the hero was drawn through Broad Street and the Cross to his hotel.
Nelson was in good health and spirits and the warmth of his welcome delighted him. Late into the night the people lingered in front of the Hop Pole and Nelson frequently appeared at the window, bowing to them.
On Monday he visited the China Factory, not the principal one, but Mr. Chamberlain's in Diglis, which caused much surprise; but Chamberlain was a friend of the host of the Hop Pole, and it was the custom in old times to go to the innkeeper for guidance. They were preceded by a band of music and all Worcester turned out to see them pass, and over the entrance to the China Works was a triumphal arch of laurel with blue flags and an appropriate inscription.  

There was great excitement in the works and amongst the hands. James Plant, a china painter, recalled long after, the eager impatience and the entry of Nelson and his party : -
'A battered looking gentleman made his appearance. He had lost an arm and an eye. Leaning on his left and only arm was the beautiful Lady Hamilton, evidently pleased at the interest excited by her companion; and then amongst the general company came a very infirm old gentleman. This was Sir William Hamilton'.

Nelson declared that though he possessed the finest porcelain that the Courts of Dresden and Naples could afford, he had seen none to equal the china shown him that day. He gave a large order for china to be decorated with his arms. This included an elegant vase, with likeness of Lady Hamilton. Sadly, only a breakfast service had been completed when Nelson fell at Trafalgar, and this has been scattered throughout the world - the Worcester Porcelain Museum having five pieces, and very beautiful and exotic they are.
Nelson's visit brought changes in Worcester. Cooken Street changed its ancient name to commemorate the victory of Copenhagen; and an inn near the top of that road became 'The Mouth of the Nile' (the scene of one of Nelson's triumphs) and another inn at Merryvale became the 'Lord Nelson'.
There was a mosaic of stone made in front of the Guildhall recalling Nelson's Visit, but this has long since disappeared.