For over 100 years, gold letters on the deck of HMS Victory, Nelson's ship which is now in permanent dock in Portsmouth, have told visitors the exact spot where Nelson died after defeating the French and Spanish at Trafalgar in 1805.

But new evidence reveals that this may actually be the wrong location.

Nelson's last words are said to be "Kiss me, Hardy." The Battle of Trafalgar was very much a decisive British victory, mainly thanks to the fact that Britain's sailors were professional and full-time, whereas the French and Spanish sailors were newly-conscripted off the streets. The British sailors could fire cannon rounds much quicker than their French and Spanish enemies. 2,218 French sailors were killed and 1,025 Spanish sailors were killed. Just 449 British were killed. 7000 French and Spanish prisoners were taken by the British, and the British also captured 21 French and Spanish ships.

HMS Victory, Nelson's flagsip during the battle, in still in service with the Royal Navy to this day (though it doesn't actually sail anywhere).

You missed me, Hardy: Or how Nelson really died 25ft from the spot that's a shrine

By Daily Mail Reporter
28th May 2008
Daily Mail

They have come in their thousands to pay homage to Nelson - at the exact spot where he met his end.

'Here Nelson Died', proclaims gold lettering on HMS Victory's orlop deck, in a fitting monument to our greatest naval hero.

Except he didn't.

Curator Peter Goodwin discovered the structural timbers shown in Arthur Devis' famous painting did not match the spot where Nelson was thought to have died

Lord Nelson died 25ft further along the orlop deck after being shot by a sniper at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805

At least, not there. It turns out you need to shuffle a teensy bit to the fore to see where Nelson breathed his last. Well, 25ft in fact.

It's hardly the kind of mistake that England expects. But the Navy has finally been persuaded to do its duty and set the record straight.

The truth was fathomed by Peter Goodwin, the curator of Victory, after studying Arthur Devis's painting The Death of Nelson.

Lord Nelson in full regalia painted by Sir William Beechey

It shows the admiral in his final moments after being shot by a French sniper at the Battle of Trafalgar in October 1805. As he lay dying during the next three hours, he is famously reported to have said to the ship's captain, Thomas Hardy: 'Kiss me, Hardy'.

Mr Goodwin said: 'As soon as Victory returned from Trafalgar, Devis came aboard and spent three weeks making sketches and models so he could paint a tribute to this hero.

'I studied his original sketches and realised the features did not tally with the position marked in the ship.'

Structural timbers in the painting did not match up with the spot where Nelson was believed to have died on the lowest deck.

After examining the painting and reading documents written at the time about how Victory was damaged, Mr Goodwin pinpointed a more accurate position - about 25ft further forward on the same deck.

He added: 'The marking in gold leaf has been there since around 1900, maybe earlier, and that's where people have stood in some sort of reverie, paying tribute to Nelson.

Unfortunately, they should have moved 25ft to their right.' It has taken the curator a decade to persuade the Navy he is correct.

But finally, officials have agreed to a new monument, marking the correct spot on the port side of the ship in Portsmouth Harbour.

Sculptor Philip Chatfield creates the memorial which will mark the spot aboard HMS Victory in Portsmouth, Hampshire where Admiral Lord Nelson died

Mr Goodwin, 57, added: 'History is not always what it appears to be. But the point is to get as close to accuracy as possible.'

The memorial will have a limestone centrepiece-taken from a site 20 miles from Cape Trafalgar in southern Spain.

It will read: 'Vice-Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson died of his wounds on this deck 4.30pm Monday 21 October 1805.'

Battle rages: A depiction of the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, in which the professional and well-trained British sailors easily defeated the part-time and poorl-trained French and Spanish

A copy of Devis's painting is also on the deck. The original wording will be painted over.

Victory was Nelson's flagship when the British fleet confronted the Franco-Spanish fleet off Cape Trafalgar in the pivotal naval battle of the Napoleonic Wars.