HMS Victory launched 1765 – Query re her original figurehead

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  • #5895
    Malcolm Lewis
    Participant

    Thos.Slade’s Victory was “floated up” in the Old Single Dock at Chatham in 1765. She had a large and elaborate figurehead made to a detailed design brief. It measured 24 feet from top to bottom. No reference is made in Bugler’s history of the ship as to the wood used but John McKay in his “The 100-gun Ship Victory” notes it was carved from elm (page 12).

    Elm was used in the 17th/early 18th century then replaced by oak. In 1742 the Navy Board ordered figureheads to be carved in softwoods such as pine although deal and teak continued to be used. McKay’s reference is is the only one I have found mentioning elm. I believe some remains of the original figurehead (replaced in 1802 with the simpler design seen today) are held at NMM Greenwich.

    I would be grateful if anyone has more information about the wood used for the original.
    Malcolm Lewis

    #6230
    Frank Scott
    Participant

    Michael Stammers ‘Figureheads & Ship carving’ (Chatham Publishing, London, 2005), page 89 has this to say:

     ‘No one to my knowledge has done a survey of species of wood used by taking samples from actual figurehead, but the woods most usually mentioned in the records were oak and pine, especially yellow pine. I have also found one reference to elm. In 1825 Overton and Faldo charged £3 for two elm trail boards for the new naval brig HMS African, but the account did not state what the figurehead was carved from.’

    Frank Scott

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