Lady Jane Franklin

Meet Lady Jane Franklin, an incredible woman whose story is in the Polar Worlds gallery at the National Maritime Museum. Discover about her amazing life and create your own statue of her to show your family and friends how important she is!

Make your own Lady Jane Franklin figurine with our special craft activity. 

What do you need?

This is entirely up to you! You can use pencils and paper to draw or write, or you can use anything around your home to create 3D statues.

Image of children's crafts. Recycled materials have been used to create a landscape of buildings and gardens.

Who was Lady Jane Franklin?

Jane was a British traveller. 

A figurine of Lady Jane Franklin. She wears a white dress and shawl, black shoes and has a crown of flowers that covers some of her brown hair.

Looking at her clothes, you can probably tell she lived a long time ago, in the 1800s. 

When her dad went on trips for work, she and her sisters went with him. They went all over Europe.

Later on, Jane lived on an island called Van Diemen’s Land (now called Tasmania, in Australia) with her husband for five years.

Quick Activity: Do you know anyone who has been on a journey? Can you draw them or write about them?

While she was living in Van Diemen’s Land, Jane travelled around New Zealand and Australia.

She also set up a school, a museum and a science society. She was the first British woman to climb Mount Wellington.

Not all of Lady Jane Franklin's projects worked. She tried to get rid of all the snakes in Van Diemen’s Land by paying people a shilling (about £10 today) for every snake they killed. But there are still snakes there now, which was good news for the snakes.

Quick Activity: Can you draw or make a snake? You could use recycled materials such as cardboard to help!

Lady Jane Franklin always took a flea-proof iron bed with her when she travelled, even to the top of a volcano in Hawaii. Luckily for her, she always travelled with servants to help her.

Jane and her husband collected model boats. She brought back models from all over the world, including a model canoe from Canada made from porcupine quills and tree bark.

Quick Activity: What would you make a canoe out of? Can you design a canoe using just materials you can see? How about if you could use any material you can think of?

Jane was not always very kind to the children in her life, but she loved her husband very much.

Jane’s husband Sir John Franklin was an Arctic explorer. In 1845, he set off from England on a voyage to the Arctic with his ships Terror and Erebus and a crew of 129 men. They never came back.

Jane spent the next 13 years trying to find out why her husband and his crew disappeared.

Jane made a flag for one of the crews that searched for John. She sewed a message of hope on it.

A blue flag. In the centre is a gold anchor that has been sewn on. On the left of the anchor it says Hope On, on the right it says Hope Ever.

When a search crew found out John had died, she made sure statues of him were put up, so everyone would remember him.

In 1860 the Royal Geographical Society awarded her a gold medal for her hard work trying to find her husband. Back then, women were not allowed inside the Royal Geographical Society, so she could not collect the medal herself.

Sir John and Lady Jane Franklin figurines

The pottery figure was made in 1855, when Jane was 63 years old.

It is 26cm high (about as tall as an orange squash bottle).

It is an ornament, for people to display at home. There is a figure of her husband John to go with it.

We can find out quite a lot about John Franklin from his figure.

  • He has his Navy captain’s uniform on, including a medal
  • He's carrying a telescope for looking out from his ship
  • He is standing in rocky landscape to show that he was an explorer

Your challenge

Design a new figure of Lady Jane Franklin. Think of some things you could add to your design to tell us something about her.

You could think about:

  • What will she be holding?
  • Will she be standing next to something? Or someone?
  • What could she be doing instead of standing?
  • Can you design her some new clothes?
  • Could you add patterns or pictures to her dress?

A drawing of Lady Jane Franklin with items that represent her achievements. They include a medal around her neck, a ship model in her hand, some snakes and a flag.

How will you design your figure?

  • You could draw your design.
  • Or make a model from modelling clay or play dough, or recycled materials.
  • Or talk about it with someone.

Share it with us! 

Tag us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook to share your figures with us.