80-Gun Two-Decker ‘Le Mars’

Scale: unknown. A contemporary full hull model, rigged and complete with numerous fittings including a full set of boats; the whole of which is mounted on wooden baseboard. This model was probably named after the ‘Mars’ of Trafalgar fame although typically, it includes fittings of both English and French design.

Apart from the rich and ornately carved wooden decoration on the topsides, the lower wooden hull is covered with copper to give the impression of copper sheathing which was used to prevent damage from both the marine boring worm ‘Teredo Navalis’ and weed growth.

Of particular interest are the oval shaped carved wooden casks on deck, which would either contain water or salted beef. On the starboard side at the upper gun deck level is an ornately carved wooden entry ladder and platform, which would be rigged for use of the officers boarding from a boat alongside. Along the top of the bulwarks are the hammock nettings supported by iron cranes. This is where the hammocks, used for sleeping in below decks, were kept during the day and then covered over by painted canvas sheets to protect them against the weather. Hanging over the stern is a cutter slung form davits, a pair of Jacobs’s ladders and a rare example of a circular cork lifebuoy.

During the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (1793–1815), large numbers of French prisoners were housed in open prisons throughout Britain. Their daily food ration included half a pound of beef or mutton on the bone. Subsequently, the bone became a readily available source of raw material from which a variety of objects were crafted. Other materials were also used including wood, horn, brass, silk, straw and glass. Typically, the models were not made to scale as accurate scale plans were not available and tools were limited. To realize a good price at market, the models were often named after famous ships of the time, whilst some models included spring-loaded guns operated by cords.

Object Details

ID: SLR0631
Collection: Ship models
Type: French Prisoner of War Model, Full hull model
Display location: Not on display
Vessels: Le Mars
Date made: circa 1800
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Overall model and base: 505 x 686 x 227 mm

Your Request

If an item is shown as “offsite”, please allow eight days for your order to be processed. For further information, please contact Archive staff:

Tel: (during Library opening hours)

Click “Continue” below to continue processing your order with the Library team.