Cistern barometer, made from wood of the 'Temeraire'

The cistern barometer is a simple design consisting of a circular glass tube, the upper end of which is sealed and the lower end open and immersed in mercury. Its design is typical of domestic barometers available in the mid-19th century. This example is made of oak said to come from the stern post of the 'Temeraire', which fought alongside Nelson's 'Victory' at Trafalgar. The oak case has set into it a piece of carved bone depicting Nelson and with an inscription explaining the item's history but there is no other supporting provenance. The date of manufacture is probably derived from the fact that the 'Temeraire' was broken up in 1838 by John Beatson of Rotherhithe, when other items were certainly made of her timber, notably some furniture presented by Beatson to Rotherhithe parish church. Since the 'Temeraire' underwent a major refit following severe damage at Trafalgar, the instrument may be earlier but this is perhaps unlikely given that her breaking up was a notable news event at the time. She was then the biggest ship ever brought so far up the Thames for that purpose, was the subject of two published prints (see PAD6047 and 6048) while being broken up and of Turner's famous painting of her last journey, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1839 (National Gallery). This barometer was lent to the National Gallery in 1995 for the exhibition 'Making and Meaning: the Fighting Temeraire' of which the catalogue (by Judy Egerton) is a well-illustrated source of information about the ship and her commemoration. The Museum also has two tables made from 'Temeraire' timber (AAA3174 and AAA3189).

Object Details

ID: NAV0785
Collection: Astronomical and navigational instruments
Type: Barometer
Display location: Not on display
Creator: W. & S. Jones
Events: Napoleonic Wars: Battle of Trafalgar, 1805
Vessels: Temeraire (1798)
Date made: circa 1838
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Overall: 1015 mm x 150 mm x 110 mm

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