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V&A campaigns to save bronze angels, intended for Wolsey tomb, later given to Lord Nelson

The Victoria and Albert Museum has launched a campaign to save four bronze angels, originally intended to accompany the sarcophagus of Cardinal Wolsey, which now sits in St Paul's as the tomb to Lord Nelson.

The angels, previously thought to be lost, stand a metre tall and were designed by Florentine sculptor Benedetto da Rovezzano. They are now being offered for sale to the V&A for the price of £5m and the museum has started a campaign to save the Angels for the nation.


The angels were commissioned as part of a grand tomb, but Wolsey famously fell from grace in the Court of King Henry VIII, failing to secure the King a divorce from Catherine of Aragon, and was stripped of all his possessions.

A year later he died whilst on his way to face treason charges; his elaborate tomb stored away and never completed.

While the Angels were thought to be lost, recently resurfacing at a Northamptonshire golf club, an ornate black marble sarcophagus, part of the planned tomb and also by Benedetto da Rovezzano, has now spent more than 200 years as the focal point of the crypt of St Paul's - the tomb of Horatio Lord Nelson, victor of the Battle of Trafalgar.

Much loved and a hero to the nation, upon his death King George III gifted the sarcophagus to top Nelson's tomb; put in place directly underneath the centre of the dome after a grand State Funeral. The only change to the original design is that it is now topped with a viscount's coronet.