The Nelson Monument stands in the open area in front of Exchange Flags. It’s an imposing and rather striking creation, crowded with figures of a soldier, angel and skeleton as well as Nelson himself on top, with four chained people depicted below. It was sculpted by Sir Richard Westmacott with a design by Matthew Cotes Wyatt and was unveiled in 1813, making it the first public sculpture to be erected in the city.
The monument came about when Liverpool City Council decided to commemorate Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. They put £1,000 towards it and public subscriptions raised a further £8,000 or so.
Admiral Nelson is the naked figure looking up presumably to heaven, the skeletal hand of Death trying to restrain him as Victory places a crown atop his head in an unusually muscular depiction. The four chained figures are not supposed to be slaves as you might at first imagine, but prisoners each representing one of Nelson’s victories – the Battles of Cape St Vincent, the Nile, Copenhagen and Trafalgar.
The inscription around the base reads “England expects every man to do his duty”.