Read our blog to get the lowdown from our experts and go behind the scenes at Royal Museums Greenwich.
From the mid-19th century onwards, figureheads on Merchant Navy vessels diversified and a much broader range of characters were chosen by shipowners to be depicted as their vessels’ figureheads. A selection from the Long John Silver Collection on display at Cutty Sark, demonstrates this diverse range.
Under the hull of Cutty Sark is the Long John Silver Collection of Merchant Navy figureheads. These figureheads are from many different ships, many sailing at the same time as Cutty Sark. Within the collection are a number of significant military figures, from the 19th century, both from Britain and abroad.
In the Long John Silver Collection of figureheads on display at Cutty Sark, there are several examples of 18th and 19th century politicians being chosen to decorate the bows of vessels, which were often then named after the politician too.
Within the Long John Silver collection of figureheads - the largest collection of merchant navy figureheads in the world on display under the hull of clipper ship Cutty Sark - there is the figurehead of another tea clipper, Sir Lancelot.
Shipowners found inspiration for the names of their vessels – and the figureheads that adorned them – from many different sources including literature. Within the Cutty Sark’s collection of Merchant Navy figureheads, a good example of a figurehead inspired by literature is the ship’s own figurehead, Nannie.
Figureheads are carved wooden sculptures which decorated the prows of sailing ships.
On display at Cutty Sark is the Long John Silver Collection of figureheads – the largest collection of merchant navy figureheads in the world.
The Long John Silver Collection of figureheads on display at Cutty Sark is a colourful and eclectic collection of characters, ranging from Sir Lancelot to William Wilberforce, Florence Nightingale to the Greek goddess Amphitrite, General Gordon to Abraham Lincoln.