Warship; Third rate; 74 guns

Scale: Unknown. A contemporary full hull model of a 74-gun two-decker ship of the line (circa 1800), made by French prisoners of war. The model is carved from the solid and decked, equipped with two boats slung by tackles rigged to the end of the main yards. It is also fully rigged and complete with flags flying from all masts, including a royal standard from the top of the main.

When French prisoners were held captive in Britain during the Napoleonic Wars, they were kept in a variety of buildings ranging from purpose built prisons to floating hulks moored on rivers. They were given a weekly ration of meat on the bone which after boiling to make broth, the remaining bone was sun dried and bleached, to make it suitable for carving in a variety of craftwork.

One of the most popular items made was ship models and were probably made by a team of sailors who each specialized in a certain part of the ship. They would use whatever material they could gather, wood and bone for the hulls, silk, horse and human hair for the rigging, and later some of the more ornate examples were given a copper sheathing below the waterline. These models were bought and sold at the prisons’ weekly ‘open’ market days where the public were allowed to purchase items made by the inmates.

Object Details

ID: SLR0013
Collection: Ship models
Type: Full hull model; Rigged model
Display location: Not on display
Date made: circa 1800
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Caird Collection
Measurements: Overall: 360 x 520 x 240 mm

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