He stands in the centre of Trafalgar Square on the top of one of the world's most famous monuments, looking out over London.

Now a new likeness of Norfolk's greatest hero has been created which gazes across the fields to the village where he was born.

The life-sized wood carving of Lord Nelson has been made from the trunk of a large maple tree beside the playing field in Burnham Thorpe, near Burnham Market,

The project began after the tree became diseased, leading villagers to wonder if the trunk could be salvaged.

Fiona Bevington, who walks her Jack Russell Podge past the site, thought it could be turned into a carving.

"I saw the trunk and thought what a wonderful idea it would be to create a feature from it," said Mrs Bevington, 54, who farms nearby with her husband Mark.

"I had seen this kind of thing done before and so I suggested it to the playing field committee. I can’t believe how good it looks now it is finished.”

Enter forester and chainsaw artist Henry Hepworth-Smith, from Fakenham.

There was only ever going to be one candidate for a statuesque carving in the village where Horatio Nelson was born on September 29, 1758 - the admiral himself.

"We could have just carved an owl or something," said Mr Hepworth-Smith, who took up carving 18 months ago.

"It was nice to do and it's good that everyone's happy as well."

Nelson took Mr Hepworth-Smith around a fortnight to carve, working from photographs of other statues and paintings of the sailor.

Mrs Smith, treasurer of the playing field committee, said: "It was going to be a large expense for us to remove the unsafe tree and stump. Instead it has been transformed into something amazing for a similar cost, it creates something very relevant to our village."

Nelson looks across the playing field, which would have been a meadow during his childhood.

Across a stream is the village pub, originally named the Plough. Its name was changed to the Lord Nelson in 1798, in recognition of the village's finest son's victory against the French at the Battle of the Nile that year.

Nelson treated the men of the village to a farewell meal at the pub before he set sail on board the 64-gun HMS Agamemnon to hunt down the French fleet.

The Lord Nelson has again become a key stop on the Nelson trail, reopening last summer after being closed for a number of years.

Pouring a pint of Woodforde's Nelson Bitter, manageress Jessika Cross said the carving was already proving popular with visitors.

"It's amazing. It has attracted loads of people because you can see it sitting in the bar area," she said.

"We have had a huge amount of people coming here, people come for Nelson, they're obsessed."

Nelson's links with village

Nelson was the sixth of eleven children of the Revd Edmund Nelson and his wife Catherine.

The rectory at Burnham Thorpe, where Nelson is believed to have been born, was demolished in the early 19th century.

All Saints Church, where his father was rector, still stands and the font where Nelson was baptised survives.

Nelson joined the navy and went to sea at the age of 12, beginning a naval career which would see the British fleet become the dominant force on the seas, culminating n the Battle of Trafalgar on October 21, 1805.

Nelson was fatally wounded on the bridge of his flagship HMS Victory, as his vessels defeated the combined French and Spanish navies.

After landing in Great Yarmouth after the Battle of the Nile five years earlier, Nelson declared: "‘I am myself a Norfolk man and glory in being so."

Prior to the battle, a spell of peace had meant Nelson's career foundered,.

He spent five years as a reserve on half pay, much of it in North Norfolk with his wife Frances Nisbet.

Nelson would ride to Wells to pick up newspapers to keep informed as to what was going on in the world - enjoying a pint in the Crown Hotel on the Buttlands when he was passing.