Guillotine blade

Half marathon notice

Visitor notice: On Sunday 4 March Cutty Sark and the museum car park will be closed for the Vitality Big Half Marathon. All other museums will be open as normal and DLR and rail links will be running. Find out about road closures

Essential information

Opening times: 
National Maritime Museum, First floor, The Atlantic gallery

Find out why this blade was so revolutionary.

This guillotine blade, still mounted with rivets to its original lead weighted wooden block, was used on the West Indian island of Guadeloupe by French republicans during revolutionary struggles there.

It is said to have been used to execute more than 50 royalists. This guillotine is likely to have been taken to the Americas by the French Revolutionary commissar Victor Hugues, when he was sent to Martinique and Guadeloupe to purge the royalists.

In 1794 the British occupied Guadeloupe and Captain Matthew Scott of HMS Rose is said to have brought back the guillotine blade as a war trophy.