William Beatty’s medicine cabinet is saved for the nation


Surgeon Lieutenant Commander Jo Laird of the Royal Navy Medical Service launched the campaign after spotting the piece of nautical history on the antique selling portal 2Covet.

Along with colleagues Surg Cdr Kate King and Surg Cdr Iain Wood she began the crowdfunder, asking for £16,000 – a total that has now been reached.

Antique dealer Charles Wallrock of Wick Antiques in Lymington, Hants, who was offering the cabinet reduced the price and reserved it to give the fundraising time.

Charles Wallrock with the medicine cabinet that belonged to Sir William Beatty, Nelson’s surgeon at Trafalgar.

It will be put into a display case at the planned museum and visitor centre on the site of the former Royal Naval Hospital Haslar in Gosport, Hampshire.

The Admiralty bought the site in 1745 and when it was completed a few years later it was the biggest brick building in Europe.

Casualties from all the major wars and conflicts were treated there until it was decommissioned in 2007.

While much of the site has been developed, the hospital’s memory will continue through a visitor centre and museum dedicated to the Royal Navy medical and dental services.

Sir William Beatty joined Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory in 1804, a year after the date on his apothecary box.

He was with Nelson from he was brought below decks at Trafalgar and knew, as did Nelson, that there was no chance of survival from the musket shot.

During the battle Beatty carried out a number of amputations, mainly of legs that had been shattered. His skills and those of his assistants saved many lives.

The cabinet would have been full of tinctures, potions and medicines that were required as a matter of routine on a man o’ war such as Victory.

Jo Laird said: “I’d like to thank everybody who has donated and managed to secure this artefact.

Jo Laird

“When I saw it on the 2Covet site I realised what a wonderful and important piece of naval and medical history it was.

“The visitor centre and museum at Haslar is being planned and this will make a marvellous exhibit.”

Charles Wallrock said: “I really wanted this to go to a museum and Haslar is the perfect place for it.

“It is a unique item with Beatty’s name on it and it was most likely at Trafalgar where Nelson defeated the combined French and Spanish fleets in 1805.

“The number of those who donated shows how important our naval history is to people.”

The portable cabinet stands just over 10 inches high and opens to reveal drawers and shelves, with two original glass jars remaining.




For more information contact Ed Baker at Deep South Media on 07788392965



Notes to editors:

2Covet is an online platform for people to ‘shop the exquisite’. Top dealers only are permitted to sell but all are permitted to buy. 

Its three directors are dealers Charles Wallrock and Steve Sly and web expert Zara Rowe.

Launched in 2019, the platform experienced steady growth then accelerated during the 2020 Covid lockdown.

It now has dozens of dealers from the UK and abroad and is shaking up the antiques market.


For more information contact Ed Baker at Deep South Media on 07788392965 or at ed.baker@deepsouthmedia.co.uk