Unidentified - Heraldic Crowned Lion
© National Maritime Museum
Photo: © National Maritime Museum
On display at Caird Entrance, NMM
Full-length, polychrome-painted figurehead depicting a heraldic crowned lion, holding a small badge of the cross of Saint George at the breast, where it fitted over the stem-head. This is a rare survival of a standard Royal Naval lion figurehead from a small warship probably of the fourth or fifth rate. Its present paint scheme is as restored by the late Kim Allen of Westerham, Kent, in the 1970s but probably much more subtly than most were originally painted: many were largely plain gold, or yellow simulating it. Such lion figures were the standard figureheads of all Royal Naval ships which bore them and were not of a size to warrant an individual design, as was usually the case with first-, second- and (more variably) third-rates. They were also standard in other European navies allowing for local differences of design. This is one of only two surviving British examples: the other, which is larger and probably a little later, supports the gable of the Red Lion Inn at Martlesham in Suffolk. There is an older, probably 17th-century example in Sussex, but in poor condition and of uncertain origin. FHD0089 is another example in the Museum collection, thought to be of 18th-century north European origin.
H233.7 x W50.8 x D58.4 cms
wood; oil paint
The figurehead originally resided in the private collection of Mr. R.B.W. Clarke of Bridewell, Devon where it was exhibited in small private museum created by Mr. R.H. Clarke in the early 19th Century. In 1971 it was purchased by the NMM from Bearnes Antiques of Devon for the sum of £1350.
National Maritime Museum
Royal Museums Greenwich, London SE10 9NF
Ownership can be cited online
Accessible to public
Data verified by owner