A 170-year-old figurehead of naval hero Admiral Lord Nelson has had its right eye ‘removed’ during a make-over.
The alteration has been made to the wooden bust at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard to make the figure historically accurate.
Nelson was famously blinded by cannon fire in Corsica on 1794 and the nine-foot wooden bust, which once adorned the bows of HMS Trafalgar, originally only had one eye painted in.
But both eyes were mistakenly painted in during previous restorations.
Now, the figurehead, which is on display by HMS Victory, has been returned to its original form to celebrate 100 years of naval heritage in Portsmouth.
The figurehead’s medal decorations have also been altered.
It comes after research showed the gold Order of the Crescent, a decoration created by Sultan Selim III in August 1799 to honour Lord Nelson on the first anniversary of the Battle of Nile, would have originally been silver.
One original feature to be left untouched because it was in good condition was the Breast Star of the Order of the Bath, awarded to Lord Nelson for his role at the Battle of Cape St Vincent in 1797.
The bust has been amended and restored by figurehead historian Richard Hunter in time for next month’s centenary celebrations of The National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth.
He said it’s the survival of original figureheads and their safekeeping that’s most important to him.
He said: ‘Over the years so many fine-looking figureheads have been lost due to apathy and neglect.
‘Important and valuable relics of the world’s rich maritime heritage have been allowed to just simply rot away.’
While Nelson had lost the sight of his eye, the eyeball itself remained in place.
There’s also no evidence to suggest he wore a black eyepatch despite popular myth.