Figurehead of the HMS Caradoc
© National Museum of the Royal Navy
Photo: © National Museum of the Royal Navy
National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth
This male turbaned bust is presumably a representation of Caradoc, a knight of the round table. However, others have suggested it could also be a representation of the leader of the Welsh during the Roman invasion of AD 43. Due to the style of the carving and the trailboard carvings having not survived it is difficult to tell. The young male bust wears a simple belted red tunic with a gold trimmed neckline. A white turban covers the figures brown hair. The image shown here is from circa 1983 and shows the figurehead with dark skin and wearing a white tunic and turban. Perhaps it's association with seamen from India that resulted in him being painted with a black face, for this was his colour when he returned to Portsmouth in 1983.
See conservation history.
HMS 'Caradoc', an iron paddle gunboat built and launched by Ditchburn and Mare of Blackwall in 1847. She began her career as a Holyhead mail packet before serving in the Crimea as tender to Britannia. The ship carried the body of Field Marshall Lord Raglan, commander of the British forces, back to England after he died of dysentery there in July 1855. From 1858 to 1868 the ship served in the Mediterranean based at Malta before returning to Portsmouth in 1869. The ship was sold in 1870 to E. Bates for breaking up.
David Pulvertaft ‘The Warship Figureheads of Portsmouth’ (Stroud, 2009) p.76
National Museum of the Royal Navy
National Museum of the Royal Navy, HM Naval Base (PP66), Portsmouth PO1 3NH
Ownership can be cited online
Accessible to public
Data verified by owner