Robert Forrest (1790-1852) was a self-taught sculptor, having worked as a stone-mason before a certain Colonel Gordon recognized his latent talent for sculpting. His new-found career was promoted by Gordon and his associates who commissioned a variety of works, mainly of national figures on a monumental scale. The present figures of Wellington and Nelson, each carved from a solid block of Craigleith Liver Rock, were commissioned by Alexander Falconer, a former colonial administrator, in the 1830's to stand in niches flanking the central portico of his home, Falcon Hall. Their erection there was noted in The Scotsman of 13 July, 1836 where it was said '...the conception certainly does great honour to the superior taste of the proprietor, and the execution much credit to Mr. Forrest...'. When Falcon Hall was demolished in 1909, the figures were removed to Lennel House, Coldstream, Berwickshire.
These monumental figures are a rare example of sculpture produced entirely within a Scottish context, and represent an important footnote to the histories of both patronage and patriotism in the nineteenth century.