Horatio Nelson was a career sailor who, as Vice Admiral of the White Squadron of the Fleet, accrued a number of personal pieces of furniture befitting his status. England embraced the hero and as a result, many of his belongings still survive in private and public collections.
Nelson’s Wash Stand
Fig. 1. Portable mahogany wash stand, circa 1787. (National Maritime Museum)
This small, portable mahogany-veneered wash stand has a split top hinging to both sides, rising mirror, wash bowl cut-out, cupboard and drawer to the front, with four brass castors and a lifting handle to each side. It appears to be missing its shelf on which a water jug would have sat. An attached silver plaque bears the inscription: “Lord Nelson’s cabin Washstand on board the Victory. Owner J. Augustine Brown Esq.” 
Nelson’s Writing Box
Fig. 2. Brass-bound writing box, circa 1798. (National Maritime Museum)
The writing box is made from timber retrieved from the French Vice Admiral Brueys’ flagship ‘L’Orient’ which was dramatically destroyed when her magazines ignited during the Battle of the Nile. An engraved brass plaque on the lid is inscribed: “Part of ‘L’Orient’ blown up at the Battle of the Nile 1st August 1798. In Lord Nelson’s possession at the time of his death 21st October 1805.”
Fig. 3. George Arnald, The Destruction of ‘L’Orient’ at the Battle of the Nile 1st August 1798. (National Maritime Museum)
By the by, Giocante Casabianca – the young son, of L’Orient’s commander, Luc-Julien-Joseph Casabianca – was the subject of Felicia Hemans’ poem, Casabianca (The boy stood on the burning deck…).
The ‘Foudroyant’ Chairs
After his decisive victory over the French at the Battle of the Nile, Nelson sailed for Naples to effect repairs to his ships. Whilst in Naples (and possibly influenced by his mistress, Lady Emma Hamilton), Nelson acquired six painted chairs (figs.4, 5 & 6) which he used in his cabin aboard the ‘Foudroyant’.
Fig. 4. Original painted decoration, Napoli chair, circa 1775. (National Maritime Museum)
The pale-blue-painted chairs have woven marram grass seats and wooden backs painted with neo-classical scenes. The chairs were later painted dark green overall (fig. 5).
Fig. 5. Later green painted finish. (National Maritime Museum)
Fig. 6. Two of the ‘Foudroyant’ chairs; pre- and post-restoration. (National Maritime Museum)
The ‘Victory’ Armchair
Fig. 7. Leather armchair, circa 1800. (National Maritime Museum)
The mahogany-framed, black leather-upholstered and brass-nailed armchair was Nelson’s personal cabin chair aboard HMS ‘Victory’. The chair originally had a black silk cushion on the right arm, on which Nelson allegedly rested his arm stump.
 James Augustine Brown served as clerk under Nelson in the ‘Boreas’, to which he transferred from the ‘Goliath’ in the spring of 1784. His chief responsibility was the pay lists and it was during this time that he was probably Nelson’s secretary.
 An inventory of Nelson’s belongings, in the British Library, lists six of these chairs.