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This Britain

Nelson's 'coffin' up for sale

A box believed to be made of wood from a barrel that held Admiral Lord Nelson's body on its voyage back to Britain is up for sale at auction today.

The box is one of several items of memorabilia associated with the naval hero in the Marine Sale at Bonhams in London's Knightsbridge.

Sale items include letters from Nelson, a rare mourning ring, tickets and invitations for his funeral and ceramics.

The box is a small silver commemorative item made of mounted oak thought to have come from the water barrel Nelson's body was kept in on the voyage back to England after the Battle of Trafalgar.

The barrel was filled with brandy to preserve his remains and it is said the liquid had to be replenished several times on the journey back.

The box is expected to fetch up to £1,200 at the sale, which ties in with the 250th anniversary of Nelson's birth.

Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson was born Horatio Nelson in Burnham Thorpe, Norfolk, in 1758, the sixth son of 11 children.

He joined the Navy at the age of 12 and became a captain aged 20.

He lost his right arm at the battle of Santa Cruz in Tenerife in 1797 and died from a bullet to his spine on board his ship, HMS Victory, at the Battle of Trafalgar on October 21, 1805.

The British Navy was victorious however, defeating Napoleon Bonaparte and the French and Spanish fleet off the Spanish coast.

Bonhams said Nelson memorabilia remained popular among collectors today.