A NAVAL Temple in Monmouth, believed to be the only one of its kind in the world, is looking ship-shape after undergoing a major restoration.

The historic memorial, at the Kymin, was built in honour of the British Navy in 1800.

The temple and Round House were built by the gentlemen of Monmouth to commemorate sixteen of Britain’s greatest 18th Century admirals, including Lord Horatio Nelson, and dedicated to the Duchess of Beaufort, the chief local landowner.

Lord Nelson visited the town in 1802, travelling down the River Wye on a visit to Pembrokeshire with Sir William and Lady Hamilton.

Andrew Helme, curator of Monmouth Museum, which has the biggest Nelson collection in the world said: "The people of Monmouth lined the streets to see him and he expressed great satisfaction when he saw the temple.

Its condition has deteriorated over the years, most notably in the 19th century, when many of its features were lost.

Attempts to restore it were made in 1882 and it was later given to the National Trust in 1902 and restored in the late 1980s.

After a three-month restoration project costing £85,000, the scaffolding has come down to reveal the temple in its best condition in 150 years.

Specialist contractors repaired the roof, while local expert Laura Vale Stephens recreated two missing paintings from the triumphal arch and re-instated Britannia’s missing trident.

Two ornate benches in the alcoves have yet to be put back in place after being restored.

The work is not entirely complete as artist Phillip Chatfield is putting the finishing touches to the new, replacement, Britannia sculpture.

Custodian, Sara Szwer said: "We think it’s the only monument to an entire Navy anywhere in the world. Now visitors will see it restored complete with the paintings that were originally designed for it more than 200 years ago."

The National Trust believe it to be the only monument in the world that celebrates the glories of an entire navy.

Lord Horatio Nelson was Britain’s greatest naval hero born in 1758. He was made a lieutenant in the Navy aged 19 and in 1793 was put in command of HMS Agamemnon where he met Sir William and Lady Hamilton, who later became his lover. He became a rear Admiral of the Blue and was given a Knighthood. He is commemorated on the Naval Temple following his victory of Napoleon in the Battle of the Nile in 1798.