Figurehead of the HMS Bulldog
© National Maritime Museum
Photo: © National Maritime Museum
Neptune Court NNM
Polychrome-painted (restored) figurehead of HMS 'Bulldog'. It represents a full-length leaping bulldog with a shield on the underside bearing the Union flag. It is depicted more as a symbol of Great Britain that as a domestic pet. The words 'CAVE CANEM' meaning 'beware of the dog' are inscribed on the dog's broad collar. Designed by Hellyer & Son of Portsmouth with an estimate of £9.
Hellyer & Son
H203.2 x W49.5 x D66 cms
The figurehead was saved and presented to the Royal United Service Institution by Admiral G. F. King-Hall KCB, CVO. It was among items purchased by the NMM when the RUSI Museum was dispersed in 1963.
The ship was commissioned for the Mediterranean in 1847, paying off at Portsmouth in 1850. In 1854 she went to the Baltic in the Crimean War campaign there, taking part in the attack on the fortress of Bomarsund. In 1856 she took part in the St George's Day Review at Spithead and in 1860 was recommissioned under Captain Leopold McLintock to survey part of the route for the proposed transatlantic cable, before being kept on the West Indies and North America Station. It paid off at Portsmouth in 1862 but returned to the North America Station in 1864 under Captain Charles Wake. She was stranded on a reef while attacking and sinking the rebel steamer 'Valorague',and another schooner at Cape Haytieu, Haiti in 1865. In addition, though stationary and in point-blank range of a rebel battery, 'Bulldog' blew up a powder magazine ashore, set fire to the town, and dispersed riflemen ashore before she began to run out of ammunition. Wake then set her on fire rather than let her fall into enemy hands, his crew of 175, three dead, ten wounded, were evacuated by a US Navy ship.
Bibliography-David Pulvertaft 'Figureheads Of The Navy(2011) p38 p79 and p208.
National Maritime Museum
Royal Museums Greenwich, London SE10 9NF
Ownership can be cited online
Accessible to public
Data verified by owner