Figurehead of the Serica
© National Maritime Museum
Photo: © National Maritime Museum
White-painted and gilded three-quarter-length figurehead of a woman in classical-style dress wearing a small crown, her right arm across her body.
H208.3 x W69.2 x D55.9 cms
Accepted by HM Treasury in lieu of Estate Duty in 1979 from Robert Arthur Dorien-Smith. The collection was begun by Augustus Smith (1806-72) who leased the islands from the Duchy of Cornwall. The figureheads in the Valhalla Collection came from vessels wrecked on Scilly.
‘Serica’ details at time of wreck. Screw steamer with schooner rig of 2652 tons, registered in London. Built by Sunderland Shipbuilding Co. 1889. Dimensions (in feet and tenths): 321.5 x 40.2 x 19.0. Owner: R. Gordon & Co. Registered voyage: Cardiff to Port Said. Cargo: coal. Master at loss: Sidney Smith. Wrecked: 24 November 1893. Outward bound from Cardiff with coal, the ‘Serica’ was damaged in a gale off Hartland Point on 17 November 1893. On two occasions the master was washed overboard and washed back again. She made Scilly with her hatch tarpaulins ripped, the main cabin flooded, her pumps choked and a considerable list. She was able to leave again on the 24th but rounding the south-west of St. Mary’s, off the Woolpack, she struck a rock and had to be run ashore, where she was abandoned. This hazard, nearer the surface than indicated on charts of the time, has since been known as Serica Rock. Charlotte Dorrien-Smith remembered taking part in the salvage; ‘The figurehead is in the Valhalla’ she wrote. ‘We went down in the gig 'Normandy' and cut it off’.
"Valhalla the Tresco Ships' Figurehead Collection." (NMM, 1984).
National Maritime Museum
Royal Museums Greenwich, London, SE10 9NF
Ownership can be cited online
Accessible to public
Data verified by owner