Nelson's Spare Nose - Admiralty Arch, The Mall, London, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Master Mariner
N 51° 30.409 W 000° 07.721
30U E 699257 N 5710096
Quick Description: An urban myth that might have an element of truth to it.
Location: London, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 7/27/2011 11:02:29 AM
Waymark Code: WMC5AK
Views: 44

Long Description:
There are two versions of the reason for a nose being located in Admiralty Arch in London. Both possibly believable but is either of them true? One fact remains - the nose is there.

The Navy version.
Admiral Lord Nelson was a was a great British seafarer that won many great sea battles for his country. Sadly, nelson was killed at the battle of Trafalgar. To commemorate Nelson it was decided to build a memorial that we know as Nelson's column that stands in the middle of Trafalgar Square. The statue of Nelson was made from Craigleith sandstone and the column from Dartmoor granite. In the middle of the 19th century cranes that could lift the statue directly to the top simply did not exist so the statue had to be hauled to the top. There was some concern that the statue may be damaged during its passage to the top to the column and that his nose was at risk due to the way the statue was to be secured for lifting. A spare nose was made in case the unthinkable should happen. Fortunately, it didn't. The spare nose was not needed but was kept and placed in Admiralty Arch.

The Army version.
The spare nose was made for a statue of the Duke of Wellington. Quite why it was thought a spare nose was needed is unknown. It is claimed that the nose was placed in Admiralty Arch so that soldiers on horseback could rub it for good luck as they rode through the arch. The nose is about two metres (7 feet) off the ground so would be easily reached by a mounted horseman.

You choose which version you think is (the most) truthful.

The nose, as has been mentioned, is in Admiralty Arch that is quite easy to find. There are actually five arches running through the building. The outer ones are for pedestrians, the ones in for that are for traffic and horses and the centre arch is used on ceremonial occasions. The nose is at the southern side and eastern end of the northern traffic arch and can be seen from the adjacent footpath. Occasionally, traffic is not permitted on The Mall and the nose can be inspected close up.


UPDATE: This Waymark went to a vote that resulted in a third option being found - this could be one of the "Seven Soho Noses". The reviewer pointed me in the direction of a useful website that gives the following information:

"famous feature of Admiralty Arch is its 'nose'. On the inside wall of the large central arch (on the right as you look down The Mall towards Buckingham Palace), there's a life-size nose. The nose sits at waist high for anyone riding through the arch on a horse. Tradition apparently states that the nose is there in honour of the Duke of Wellington, who was reputed to have a large nose. Soldiers would rub Wellington's nose for good luck as they rode through the arch. Another cites that it represents Napoleon, so you could rub his nose in it - but both whiff strongly of urban myth. The dates don't add up, since both died 60-80 years before the building was completed. Although they were significant characters, Londoners had plenty of other notables to concern themselves with at the time. World War One was only three years away, after all.

Another explanation is that it's a spare for Nelson in nearby Trafalgar Square, but again Nelson's column predates the building by 70 years, I can't see them wanting to add a spare nose to another building, seventy years later.

The most likely explanation links to another story: The Seven Noses of Soho, which sounds more like an unpublished Tintin adventure. Apparently there are seven noses, similar to the one in Admiralty Arch dotted around the streets of Soho. If you find all of them, you will supposedly enjoy eternal wealth. One searcher showed how the seventh nose is the outline shape of Soho on the map (which really does smack of Tintin.) Except again, it's all urban myth (though the noses do exist, it's the legend that's fake). The Soho noses are attributable to sculptor Rick Buckley and are casts of his own nose, fixed to buildings between 1996-2005. However, there is nothing to confirm this other than similar mass rumour, Rick Buckley as a research subject evaporates under close inspection. There is one, though he appears to concentrate on video installations.

I think the nose in Admiralty Arch is a recent addition and probably fits into the Soho Seven, which aren't in fact confined to Soho at all (there's even an ear). Why they're there is still a mystery for now."

Text source: (visit link)
What's the Real Story?:
There is no documentation that could be found to explain the real purpose of the nose. Compare its shape with the noses of Nelson and Wellington's statues. Which does it most closely resemble? Look at the colour and, again, compare the colour with that of the statues and also compare the stone type. Is it just a plain old hoax and the making of an urban legend? It could be one of the "Seven Noses of Soho" though!

Website Source: [Web Link]

Additional Requirement?: Not listed

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