Lord Nelson HMS Victory letter sells for £17,000

Charles Hanson with letter Image copyright Hansons Auctioneers and Valuers
Image caption Auctioneer Charles Hanson claimed the original letter gives a "remarkable" insight into Lord Nelson's tactical and strategic skills

A letter written by Lord Nelson while on his flagship HMS Victory has sold for £17,000 to a private buyer.

The 1804 letter was written when Nelson was "attempting to lure the French and Spanish fleet out of Toulon to give battle".

Nelson did meet the enemy at the Battle of Trafalgar a year later, where he was injured and died aboard the ship.

Auctioneer Charles Hanson said he was "satisfied" with the result, despite expecting the letter to sell for more.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Nelson was killed by a French sniper while aboard the HMS Victory during the Battle of Trafalgar

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The three-page letter, expected to fetch between £20,000 and £30,000, did not sell at auction in Etwall, Derbyshire, on Saturday, but was purchased afterwards.

Mr Hanson said these kind of letters can sell for "in excess of £20,000...but it wasn't to be".

Image copyright Hansons Auctioneers and Valuers
Image caption Nelson had urged a captain to track a French fleet leaving Toulon

Mr Hanson previously told the BBC the letter revealed Nelson relied on smaller vessels to "inform him should the French fleet leave the safety of the harbour".

The letter, addressed to Frank Sotheron, captain of HMS Excellent, states Nelson's wish for the captain to inform him of the movements of the French, saying: "In the event of their sailing... you will use every effort to communicate the same to me as early as possible".

Image copyright PA
Image caption The letter was expected to sell for £20,000 to £30,000

Nelson chased the French fleet to the West Indies but did not have the chance to engage in battle until the following year.

"This battle remains renowned for the tactical skill employed by Nelson and for his courage in leading the first column of British vessels into the attack, having sent the immortal signal: 'England expects that every man will do his duty'," Mr Hanson said.

The battle, which saw the Franco-Spanish fleet defeated, has been hailed as one of the most decisive naval battles of the Napoleonic wars.

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