The life of the surgeon who tended to Admiral Nelson as he lay dying at the Battle of Trafalgar will be the topic of a new exhibition opening next week at the Greenwich Visitor Centre.

The Death of Nelson, 21 October 1805, by Arthur William Devis

Sir William Beatty was a renowned 19th-century naval surgeon and physician and the exhibition will look at his life and work in all its fascinating – and often grisly – detail. The exhibition will allow visitors to see up close the tools of the naval surgeon’s bloody practice and learn how he saved the lives of an overwhelming number of sailors – which was unusual at the time.

Of course, he was unable to save the life of his most famous patient. Later, he wore the musket ball that killed Nelson in a locket on his watch chain for the rest of his life.

The exhibition will feature a range of objects, including a replica of Nelson’s life mask and 18th and 19th-century surgical instruments, including Beatty’s own medicine chest. Visitors can experience what it was like to be in HMS Victory’s cockpit during battle, with an immersive recreation of the make-shift medical bay complete with sights, smells and sounds.

Beatty joined the Royal Navy at the age of 18, surviving a yellow fever epidemic and a shipwreck and working his way up the ranks to become the Ship’s Surgeon on the HMS Victory and, later, Physician of the Channel Fleet. He performed life-saving surgery including amputations aboard HMS Victory during the Battle of Trafalgar. Beatty also had interests outside medicine. Visitors can find out how he contributed to local life in Greenwich, including his involvement in developing the London – Greenwich Railway.

The exhibition, Blood & Battle: Dissecting the Life of William Beatty will open at the Greenwich Visitor Centre on 5th November, and runs until next March.

Adults: £6 | Children/Royal Naval personnel: Free | Concessions: £4 | Art Pass: £3

Tickets should be booked in advance from here.

Parental discretion is advised. This exhibition is not recommended for children aged 10 or younger.


Be the first to know what's on in London, and the latest news published on ianVisits.

You can unsubscribe at any time from my weekly emails.

Tagged with: ,

This website has been running now for over a decade, and while advertising revenue contributes to funding the website, it doesn't cover the costs. That is why I have set up a facility with DonorBox where you can contribute to the costs of the website and time invested in writing and research for the news articles.

It's very similar to the way The Guardian and many smaller websites are now seeking to generate an income in the face of rising costs and declining advertising.

Whether it's a one-off donation or a regular giver, every additional support goes a long way to covering the running costs of this website, and keeping you regularly topped up doses of Londony news and facts.

If you like what you read on here, then please support the website here.

Thank you

Home >> News >> London exhibitions