Figurehead of HMS Warrior
© National Museum of the Royal Navy
Image: © National Museum of the Royal Navy
National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth
This figurehead was once full length so it was presumably made before the Navy Board cut costs and busts became the most usual type. All that is left now is a bearded head wearing a helmet wreathed with laurels. The contemporary model of the ship at the Science Museum, London, shows a full-length figure straddling the bow, holding a buckler and what is probably a sword and is dressed in a suit of roman armour.
The remains of the carving have been at Portsmouth Dockyard Museum for many years. It was probably saved when the ship was broken up in December 1857. The first known listing in the Admiralty Catalogue of 1911 (and Portsmouth Dockyard Museum Catalogue the same year).
HMS 'Warrior' was built in and launched from Portsmouth Dockyard in 1781. It was the first ship of its name. She was involved in conflict with the French in April 1782 at the Battle of the Saints (West Indies), under the overall command of Admiral Sir George Rodney. She was part of Sir Hyde Parker’s reserve squadron during Nelson’s victory at Copenhagen in 1801 and took no part in the action. In 1805 'Warrior' participated in the battle of Cape Finisterre, an indecisive action during the campaign which ended with the destruction of the French fleet at Trafalgar. The 'Warrior' adopted a new role during the remainder of the war, escorting convoys to the West Indies. The ship returned to Chatham and became a receiving vessel in 1818, a convict hulk in Woolwich in 1840 and was finally broken up in December 1857. A contemporary model exists of the ship at the Science Museum, London and the plans can be seen at the National Maritime Museum.
David Pulvertaft ‘The Warship Figureheads of Portsmouth’ (Stroud, 2009) p.26
National Museum of the Royal Navy
National Museum of the Royal Navy, HM Naval Base (PP66), Portsmouth PO1 3NH
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