Search Results for: "Naval"

HMS Warrior, 1781

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.

HMS Goliath

The Historic Dockyard, Chatham

Semi-nude bust, half-length with shaggy hair and beard.

HMS Bellerophon, 1786

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth

Stern carvings of the greek god Atlas from the captain's stern gallery.

HMS Defiance

Plymouth Naval Base Museum

The bust of a bearded, classical warrior in scaled armour and plumed helmet.

HMS Indefatigable

Merseyside Maritime Museum

Half-length portrait bust depicting William IV as Duke of Clarence. The figure is shown in naval uniform.

HMS Hastings

Merseyside Maritime Museum

A portrait of Francis Rawden-Hastings, 1st Marquess of Hastings (1754-26) Governor General of India. A bust in army uniform.

HMS Prince of Wales

Scottish Maritime Museum

A half-length bust of a clean-shaven, youthful male figure in red military uniform. He wears a sword belt, the sash and star of the Order of the Garter and crowns denoting his rank on his collar.

HMS Trincomalee


A half-length male bust depicting an Indian with a moustache, wearing a muslin shirt and a turban.

HMS Terpsichore

HMS President, London

Three-quarter-length figure holding a lyre in her left hand. Terpsichore was the Muse of Lyric Poetry or Dance. She wears a low cut dress with straps. Her hair is tied back and a laurel wreath adorns her head.

HMS Scylla

Blue Town Heritage Centre, Sheerness

Three-quarter length female bust wearing a dress with full skirt and belted waist. She wears a diadem and has swept back, long hair.

HMS Satellite

HMS Calliope, Gateshead

Female three-quarter length bust.

HMS Rattlesnake

Defence Evaluation and Research Agency, Farnborough

Draped male bust of an American Indian wearing a feathered crown.

HMS Raleigh, 1873

HMS Raleigh, Torpoint

Half-length male bust in Elizabethan costume, doublet buttoned at the front, with a cloak over one shoulder. The figure is bearded. The carving terminates in scrolls and foliage.

HMS President

HMS President, Wapping, London

Half-length male bust of a gentleman wearing early 19th century dress. He has long side whiskers, a cravat and a double-breasted coat.

HMS Octavia

Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton

Three-quarter-length female bust in classical dress. Her hair is up and she wears a crown and a veil. There is a jewelled belt round her waist and a long double rope of pearls around her neck.

HMS Nymphe, 1888

St George's Centre, Gillingham

Three-quarter-length female figurehead, with long hair. She wears classical garments with a wreath in her hair and holds a posy of flowers in her right hand. Her left arm is placed across her waist.

HMS Leander

HMS Collingwood, Fareham

A half-length, male, semi-nude youth, clean shaven, with short hair, there are classical drapes around the arms and base of figure.

HMS Isis

HMS Unicorn, Dundee

Female half-length bust, wearing a helmet and scaled armour. Her long hair falls over her shoulders. The shoulders and the base of the figure are draped and there are two rows of beads running around the body below the breasts.

HMS Gleaner

Fort Blockhouse, Gosport

Female three-quarter-length bust.

HMS Ganges

HMS Ganges Museum, Shotley

Crowned male bust, half-length, representing an Indian wearing five ropes of pearls. The figure wears a high-necked robe with bands round each arm. The lower part of the figure is draped and terminates in a scroll.

HMS Fisgard

HMS Raleigh, Torpoint

Male portrait bust with blue classical drapes.

HMS Erebus

HMS Sultan, Gosport

Crowned male bust.

HMS Eagle

HMS Eaglet, Liverpool

Part of a male bust, the head and neck only surviving.

HMS Columbine

HMS Sultan, Gosport

Female three-quarter-length bust. She wears a dress with a tight bodice and full skirt. The low neck is draped with a white scarf or fichu. The lower part of the figure is draped in a red cloak. She has a wreath of flowers on her head.

HMS Challenger

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

A three-quarter-length figure of a knight in 16th century armour and helmet. The figure has a large moustache and long hair. It terminates in drapery below the waist.

HMS Hindostan

Royal Naval College, Dartmouth

A full-length bearded, draped male figure with one foot on a globe.

HMY Osborne

Royal Naval College, Dartmouth

A cartouche depicting the Royal Arms and crown decorated with carved scrolls and foliage.

HMS Britannia

Royal Naval College, Dartmouth

A full-length figure representing Britannia, striding forward, her dress and cloak billowing in the wind. She wears a helmet and scale armour; in her right hand she holds a trident and in her left a branch.

HMS Windsor Castle

Plymouth Naval Base Museum

A half-length figure representing a young Queen Victoria crowned and holding an orb and sceptre. She wears bracelets and the collar of the Order of the Garter. Roses, a shamrock and a thistle are carved around the base.

HMS Wellington

Plymouth Naval Base Museum

Bust of the Duke of Wellington, half-length in military uniform and aiguillettes and wearing the Star and Sash of the Order of the Garter. He has a sash around the waist and a laurel wreath adorns his head.

HMS Topaze

Plymouth Naval Base Museum

Three-quarter-length female bust, wearing a tight bodice, a full skirt and a diadem and swept back hair. The edges of the skirt are carved with oak branches. In the centre of the skirt is an oak wreath in which is a star with a crescent moon and sun in the centre.

HMS Tamar

Plymouth Naval Base Museum

Male three-quarter length figure depicting a bearded bare chested river god. A laurel wreath adorns his head.

HMS Sybille

Plymouth Naval Base Museum

A female standing figure wearing a white dress and blue cloak. Her arms are folded behind her back. Sibyl was a mythical woman, said to express her oracles in riddles, and it was from a painting of Lady Hamilton dressed as Sibyl that the figurehead is claimed to have been based.

HMS Sphinx

Plymouth Naval Base Museum

Turbaned, bearded male bust.

HMS Royal William

Plymouth Naval Base Museum

A standing figure of William IV crowned and wearing ceremonial robes of the Order of the Garter with detailed 'collars'of the orders of chivalry; the uppermost is the Scottish Order of the Thistle, in the centre is the Irish Order of St Patrick and the lowest of the three the English Order of the Garter(below which can be seen hanging the 'George' in the form of St George slaying the dragon.)

HMS Rinaldo

Plymouth Naval Base Museum

Half-length male figure with long hair and side whiskers wearing a broad-brimmed plumed hat and a cloak. A handkerchief is tied round the collar of his open-necked shirt and he wears a frogged jacket and waist sash. The figure is based on the brigand Rinaldo Rinaldini, a character in a novel by Goethe’s brother in law, Christian August Vulpius.

HMS Perseus

Plymouth Naval Base Museum

Bust of a warrior in scaled armour and a plumed helmet.

HMS Centaur

Plymouth Naval Base Museum

A full-length figure of a centaur, right hand on the body, left hand clasped and resting on its forehead. The two back horse legs are carved in relief, the other four limbs in the round.

HMS Calliope

Plymouth Naval Base Museum

A female, three-quarter-length wears an eastern crown and a veil. There are three strands of pearls round her neck. She has a tight bodice with a gold zigzag patterned embroidery round the neck and down the front, with a white chemise underneath. The blue bodice comes to a point at the front lower edge partially covering a red skirt.

HMS Cadmus

Plymouth Naval Base Museum

The King of Thebus- a bearded male bust crowned, wearing a plate-mail tunic and draped in a red cloak.

HMS Basilisk

Plymouth Naval Base Museum

Female bust wearing eastern crown. Her hair is twisted with strings of beads and she wears in high-necked bodice with drapery below. The sleeves are decorated with fringes, cords and drapes. The figurehead is supported by scrolls decorated with carved foliage.

HMS Aurora

Plymouth Naval Base Museum

Three-quarter length female bust, nude above the waist, draped below and around the arms. Her long hair falls across her shoulders and she wears a crown of sea shells. A carved flounce is draped around her hips and the figurehead has the lower edges of the skirt carved with branches and leaves. In the centre of the skirt, a star is carved within an oak wreath. The star bears a crescent moon and smaller star in the centre.

HMS Amazon

Southwick House, near Portsmouth

A curly light haired female bust, wearing scaled armour and draped in a cloak.

HMS Vernon

Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth Harbour

Half-length bust male figure in mid-nineteenth century uniform, with a bow tie and stand up shirt collar. He has dark thick wavy hair with short sideburns.

HMS Seaflower

HMS Nelson, HM Naval Base Portsmouth

Three-quarter-length female figure in a dress with full skirt and tight bodice. It has short sleeves. She holds a red rose in her right hand and has a gold trimmed headband.

HMS Queen Charlotte

HMS Excellent, Portsmouth

Half-length bust depicting a queen. She wears a royal crown, three ropes of pearls around the neck and a high-waisted dress with a chemise underneath. Part of a fur lined robe can be seen at the shoulders.

HMS Nile

HMS Nelson, HM Naval Base Portsmouth

This half length figurehead of Nelson shows him in the uniform of a rear admiral, his rank at the time of the Battle of the Nile-and, while the upper half is a traditional bust, the lower half has a modern look to it with the naval crown and Nelson's signal at Trafalgar. He has no hat and his left hand is holding a telescope. Below the figure is placed a naval crown and ‘ENGLAND EXPECTS …’ on a ribbon.

HMS Martin

HMS Nelson, HM Naval Base Portsmouth

Three-quarter-length female figurehead in classical dress with long hair. She has a shell on her headdress, and holds a garland of leaves. Another garland of leaves surrounds her neck.

HMS Marlborough

Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth Harbour

Half-length male bust representing the Duke of Marlborough wearing a long wig, cravat, armour and the collar of the Order of the Garter. The figure terminates in scrolls and drapes.

HMS Constance

HMS Excellent, Portsmouth

Female three-quarter-length bust. In a dress with a v-neck, full skirts and draped bodice. A cord is knotted round the waist, the shoulders are clasped with brooches and the upper arms are surrounded by bands of beads. Her hair is tied back.

HMS Barfleur

HM Naval Base Portsmouth. It is mounted on the roof of a building in the naval barracks.

A lion holding an oval shield of the Royal Arms.

HMS Ariadne

Boathouse 4, HM Naval Base Portsmouth

A three-quarter-length female bust in classical dress with grapes and vine leaves in her hair. It has a coronet decorated with stars in the tailboard. Adriadne was the daughter of King Minos of Crete and after her death her wedding garland was placed in the sky as a constellation.

HMS Wellesley

The Historic Dockyard, Chatham

A portrait male bust in uniform and sash, scaled armour at the shoulders, half-length. Rather naïve in style.

HMS Virago

The Historic Dockyard, Chatham

A full-length female figure dressed in an 18th century petticoat and gown, striding forward and holding a torch in her right hand. A lock of hair over her right shoulder, right breast bared and the head turned to the left.

HMS Star

The Historic Dockyard, Chatham

Female three-quarter-length bust. She is dressed in a tight bodice and full skirt, with a high frilled collar. She has flowers in her hair and her arms are draped.

HMS Salamis

The Historic Dockyard, Chatham

A head of a large sea animal.

HMS Rodney

The Historic Dockyard, Chatham

Half-length male figure representing the admiral in full-dress uniform wearing a ribbon and the star of the Order of the Garter. The right arm is placed across the waist, the hand now missing. The left hand is shown grasping the hilt of a sword.

HMS Mariner

The Historic Dockyard, Chatham

Male bust with thick black wavy hair and thick sideburns. He is wearing an open-necked jacket with large buttons. The shirt collar is worn outside the jacket.

HMS Irresistible

The Historic Dockyard, Chatham

Crowned male demi-head. It originally depicted a half-length figure of Jupiter. After both arms had been replaced, the figurehead acquired a trident and was converted to a figure of Neptune.

HMS Resistance

Scottish Maritime Museum, Irvine

Semi-nude male half-length figure with shaggy hair and beard, a cloak draped across the left shoulder. A ribbon or baldric is placed across the right shoulder. It terminates in drapes and carved foliage. An eagle is carved behind the scrolls at the base.

HMS Forte

The Historic Dockyard, Chatham

Male bust, bearded, classical drapes across one shoulder.

HMS Diana

The Historic Dockyard, Chatham

Short female bust with flowers in her hair. She has a frilled collar and is draped in a red cloak with a lion’s head clasp.

HMS Chasseur

The Historic Dockyard, Chatham

Male, three-quarter-length figure, in uniform and plumed hat. He is shown with a beard and moustache. Both arms are fully carved, the left one pointing forward.

HMS Bulwark

The Historic Dockyard, Chatham

A bust of Britannia, in plumed helmet and scaled armour. Her shoulders are draped.

HMS Britomart

The Historic Dockyard, Chatham

Female three-quarter-length bust, wearing a dress with frilled sleeves, one breast bare. Her long hair has been tied back in a ponytail. The carving is currently (2013) painted with a blue dress and reddish blonde hair.

HMS Hamadryad

National Museum Cardiff

Female bust in a robe with a scalloped neck and draped sleeves. She has plaited hair twined with leaves.

HMS Duncan

HMS Caledonia, Rosyth

This figurehead is a three quarter length figure portrayal of Admiral Lord Duncan (1731-1804). Duncan was known for his involvement in the Battle of Camperdown in 1797 and the French Revolutionary War, 1793-1802. The Hellyer design shows Duncan in a naval uniform with sash. The trailboards are decorated with a flag, a cannon, cannonballs and a branch of an oak tree. These trophies symbolize the Admiral’s victories.

HMS Conflict

HMS Caledonia, Rosyth

A male bust of a warrior dressed in classical armour and wearing a plumed helmet. He has dark hair and a thick moustache.

HMS Active

HMS Caledonia, Rosyth

This figurehead is of a three-quarter-length female figure. The figure holds a rose in her right hand.

HMS Albion

Hull Maritime Museum

This figurehead is a three-quarter-length bust of Britannia, the female personification of Britain. The figure wears scaled armour and a skirt with a plumed helmet. On her upper arms Dickerson has carved lion masks.

HMS Trafalgar

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

This figurehead depicts Vice Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson (1758-1805). The bust wears a full-dress uniform embellished with the stars of the Order of the Crescent,(Turkey) the Order of St Ferdinand(Naples & Sicily) and the Order of Bath with a Naval Gold Medal around the neck. The figure also wears a gold-laced hat.

HMS Victory (post-1800)

HMS Victory, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

The present carving which is a replacement is an oval shield bearing the Hanovarian Royal Arms with cherubs as supporters. This is thought to be the design in use at Trafalgar.

HMS Supply

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth

Carved as a half-length nude female figure with bunches of grapes held in both hands, her left breast is covered by sash over her shoulder. Her hair is decorated with vine leaves and small bunches of grapes suggesting the victualling stores that would have been included in the items that she provided to the fleet.

HMS Rolla

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth

This figure is a bust portraying the character of Rolla from the 1799 play by August von Kotzebue ‘Pizarro; the Spaniards in Peru; or the Death of Rolla’— Rolla is the heroic Peruvian general. He was played by Kemble, who is shown in this role, dressed in a semi-classical style, in contemporary prints including one by Robert Dighton. The bust is draped in a red tunic with a badge at the centre (probably originally intended to represent a sunburst). The base of the carving is decorated with foliage.

HMS Peterel

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth

Three-quarter-length female bust, her hair tied back. She wears a headdress, a tightly fitted mid-Victorian bodice with a pinked collar and a full skirt. The figure terminates in scrolls with a petrel carved in relief on the sides.

HMS Pigmy

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth

Union flag in rope border with a crown above and the Royal Arms below.

HMS Orestes

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth

This male figurehead is a portrayal of Orestes, son of Agamemnon and king of Mycenae and Argos. He avenged his father’s death by killing his mother. The clean shaven male bust wears a helmet with armour protecting his upper arms over which is draped a classical tunic.

HMS Minerva

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth

The figurehead is a bust representing the goddess Minerva, the daughter of Jupiter and Roman goddess, patron of war and the arts. The figure is helmeted and wears scaled armour. The base of the bust is draped in carved cloth.

HMS Malacca

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth

This male bust figurehead wears classical armour over a shirt and a plumed helmet. He has a moustache. In the original sketch by Hellyer & son, the figurehead depicted an Indian man wearing a striped shirt and turban.

HMS Madagascar

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth

The figurehead is presumed to have been a bust with intricate tropical fruit carving on the trailboards. The African male nude figure was designed by Edward Hellyer & Son in 1812 and forwarded to be made for the sum of £6. All that survives is the head after an incident with a bonfire in Brazil in the 1860s.

HMS Illustrious

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth

The existing figurehead is a draped male bust apparently wearing armour. He wears a long curly wig and wreath of laurel around his head. Pulvertaft suggests this is George III but it appears to represent an early 18th century personage such as the Duke of Marlborough or George I. It has been suggested that this figurehead may have been replaced during Queen Victoria’s reign (1837-1901).

HMS Poictiers

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth

A small bust of a medieval knight in a plumed helmet. The back is flat.

HMY Victoria & Albert I

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Bow decorations with the Royal arms on the starboard side and Prince Albert’s arms on the port side, within a scroll carved with acanthus leaves, roses, shamrocks and thistles.

Queen Anne

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth

A small, flat backed bust, apparently depicting Queen Anne, crowned and wearing the Order of the Garter. She also wears a necklace of large pearls and ropes of pearls in her hair.

HMS Warrior, 1860

HMS Warrior, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Full-length bearded figure with sword and buckler clad in roman armour.

HMS Grampus

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth

This figure is a representation of Neptune, the god of water and sea from Roman mythology. The male bust has long black hair and a beard. He wears an eastern crown decorated with pearls. The figure is nude, draped at the midriff with a blue cloth. The base of the carving is plain with scroll detailing.

HMS Glasgow

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth

A full-length male figure in traditional Scottish dress of red, white and green. The kilted soldier is supposedly a representation of the city of Glasgow. He stands, about to draw his sword with his right arm as if in battle.

HMS Eurydice

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth

The figurehead is that of Eurydice, wife of the musician Orpheus. Tragically, Eurydice was bitten by a snake and died. Her distraught husband followed her to the underworld where Hades, its ruler, told Orpheus his wife could return to him—on one condition. He must not look back until he reached the mortal world. Orpheus was just about to reach the open air when he could not resist the urge to look back at his wife, breaking his promise to Hades and loosing Eurydice forever. The figurehead’s pose is that of Eurydice reaching out to her husband in longing and despair. The figure is loosely draped in a blue and red tunic revealing her breasts. The tunic is secured with a brooch. In the original design by Hellyer an imp was carved on the trailboard, almost pulling her to the Underworld. Below the imp a snake is carved slithering down the bow. The trailboard carvings did not survive.

HMS Espiegle

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth

HMS 'Espiegle’s' name takes its origins from the french, L’Espiègle meaning ‘frolicsome’. The female, three-quarter-length figure wears a green full length dress with blue and gold details. On her wrists are carved gold, jewel encrusted bangles. She also wears a domino mask, the type worn for masquerades.

HMS Cruizer

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth

This bust figurehead is the representation of sailor. The bearded male figure wears a sennit hat and blue sailor’s uniform, with medals on the left breast and gold button details.

HMS Cleopatra

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth

This figurehead is a representation of Cleopatra. The half length figure is draped in a blue tunic, matching her blue hair. The tunic is draped over her right shoulder leaving her left shoulder and breast uncovered.

HMS Centurion

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth

This is a representation of a classical warrior in scaled armour and helmet. On the breast plate there is a carved lion’s head in gold. The armour is belted at the waist of the bust in gold and red. The fluted sleeves are also trimmed with gold. Underneath the armour the warrior wears a ruffled collar shirt. The helmet is black with gold detail. What is unusual about this male bearded bust is that it was designed to stand bolt upright on the ship’s bow. This is uncommon in figurehead design and unique for the NMRN collection, where the carving now resides.

HMS Carnatic

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth

This moustached Indian male figurehead wears a red beaded and jewelled turban on his head. His white tunic is believed to have been striped but the paint has worn off. Over his tunic he wears a chain of office. The bust is draped in a blue carved fabric.

HMS Caradoc

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.

HMS Calypso

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth

This female bust figurehead is a representation of Calypso, the sea nymph who lived on Ogygia, the island where Odysseus was shipwrecked when returning from Troy as described in in The Odyssey. Calypso forced Odysseus to remain on the island for seven years before setting him free. From the design by Hellyer & Son (1843) and an 1938 photograph we can see that the original figurehead was nude to the waist. However, the existing figurehead today is draped with a blue tunic covering her left breast and her long brown hair almost concealing the other. It is not recorded whether this was added to cover up damage to the carving or as a display of modesty in the training establishment for boy seamen. Bulrushes are carved on the lower part of the figure, alongside other floral and foliage carving. The carving was described by ‘The Mariners Mirror’ in 1913 as:
“A well-developed female bust to the waist, a smirking expression on a well satisfied, rather pretty face. Waving hair in Grecian style; a long curl descending on the breast on either side. A black bead necklace, apparently oak-galls, graduated on a loose wire, with small black Latin cross as a pendant. Loose brass ear-rings; below the waist a small lyre.”

HMS Calliope

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth

Figurehead and trailboard carving. Calliope was one of the nine Greek mythological daughters of Zeus and muse of epic poetry. The half-length figure wears a white dress with gold belt detail below the bust. She holds a book in her left hand and stylus in her right. The figure also wears a gold diadem.

HMS Blazer

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth

This unusual figurehead is a depiction of a smiling, golden sun.

HMS Benbow

Main entrance, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

The figurehead is of the bust of Vice Admiral John Benbow, the commander-in-chief of the West Indies during the War of Spanish Succession, who died of wounds sustained in a battle with a French squadron in 1702. He wears a brown curly wig and white cravat as shown in contemporary portraits. The figure wears armour and the lower part is draped in red cloth.

HMS Bellerophon, 1824

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth

This figurehead replaced one of the Duke of Wellington on the ship formerly known as HMS 'Waterloo'. Unlike the 1786 figurehead of 'Bellerophon', this bust is much simpler. It is a portrayal of the Greek hero, 'Bellerophon', a warrior. He fought the Chimera and also caught the winged horse Pegasus, using Minerva’s magic. The male figure wears a black and gold plumed helmet and gold and black armour.

HMS Bellerophon, 1786

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth

This figurehead is a portrayal of the Greek hero, Bellerophon, a warrior. He fought the Chimera and also caught the winged horse Pegasus using Minerva’s magic, as it is told in Greek myth. Before it was damaged the figurehead represented Bellerophon as a nude figure draped in a red cloak riding Pegasus, his right arm raised, holding a javelin. The horse’s wings were spread. All that remains is the helmeted head. The figurehead would have been painted white during its time in service. In 1814 the Navy Board approved more use of gilding and colours for figurehead decoration.

HMS Asia

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth

This compact figurehead, described in the Admiralty catalogue of 1911 as the ‘Figure of a Rajah (bust)’ is an Indian male figure. A red turban adorns his head with the bust draped in a white tunic. This carving is very compact and does not incorporate the folds of simulated cloth that usually wrap the base of the torso. The turban was once white but the restorer changed this detail to red at some point. His expressive face is comically moustached and he wears gold drop earrings.

HMS Apollo

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth

The figurehead is of Apollo, son of Jupiter. He represented the mythological embodiment of the sun and is typically represented as an archer. A semi-nude bust draped in blue cloth with long hair crowned by a laurel wreath.

HMS Actaeon

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth

This figurehead represents the mythological character, Actaeon. Actaeon was a hunter who stumbled upon Diana, goddess of the hunt, bathing with her nymphs. The angry Diana turned Actaeon into a stag and he was hunted down and killed by his own hounds. The figurehead itself is a semi-nude bust with long black curly hair and draped in a red tunic. Leaves decorate the stem of the carving.

HMS Wanderer

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth

This female bust wears a red tunic with blue sash and belt. The figures blonde hair is also covered with a blue hat.

HMY Victoria & Albert II

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth

Within a scroll are two oval shields with the royal arms on the starboard side and the arms of Prince Albert on the port side. The whole is surmounted by a crown.

HMS Black Eagle

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth

This is a carving of a black eagle perched upon a scroll of foliage. The eagles wings are outspread as it leans forward revealing a curved gold cross on the underside of the left wing. Each feather is meticulously carved. On the chest of the bird there is a gold and red Prussian crown, which is derived from the Prussian royal coat of arms. The figurehead is painted black with gold feet.

Stern from Implacable

Neptune Court, National Maritime Museum

The HMS 'Implacable' stern carvings consist of 56 separate parts, starting with ZBA0552.1 which is a starboard window and ending with ZBA0552.56.

Stern Carving (possibly HMS Ganges)

Kidbrooke Stores, NMM

Stern carving depicting a classical warrior in a helmet and armour, flanked by military trophies - banners, spear, sword, cannon, worm, sponge and shot. The surface is painted. The item was previously held at HMS 'Ganges'.

HMS Colossus


Sternboard from the 74-gun ship 'Colossus', a third-rate built in 1787. It comprises an elongated black-painted lozenge-shaped panel, with a gilded raised edge and mirror image foliate decoration either side of a central crown with a red cap lining.

Taffrail Decoration – unidentified

Kidbrooke Stores, NMM

Taffrail carved with scrolling foliage and a shell in the centre.

Figurehead HMS Adventure

Kidbrooke Stores, NMM

Female figurehead with red hair wearing a blue cape/mantle. Probably from HMS 'Adventure' 1855?

HMS Ajax

Neptune Hall NMM

Figurehead of HMS 'Ajax'. The polychrome-painted, bearded male figure is a half-length bust in classical armour and plumed helmet, wearing the Order of the Bath above a fiddle (backward turning) scroll: the armour is similar to that of FHD0061, made at Plymouth nearly thirty years before, suggesting common forms of source.

HMS Adventure (formerly HMS Resolute)

On display in Neptune Court, NMM

Figurehead from the troopship HMS 'Adventure' in the form of a female head wearing a crown of stars, and finished with polychrome oil paint.

HMS Resolute

Kidbrooke Stores, NMM

Figurehead depicting the head of a polar bear from the Arctic exploration vessel HMS 'Resolute'.

HMS Star

Kidbrooke Stores, NMM

Figurehead of a female wearing an off the shoulder dress. Dress decorations made of lead. Early Victorian hair style with a bun. Neck choker with six star pendant. Probably belonged to HMS 'Star'.

Figurehead Model HMS Victory

On loan to Chatham Historic Dockyard - 1 Smithery, main gallery

Scale approx. 1:24. Model of the original figurehead on HMS Victory (1765), a first rate 100 gun warship. It has been carved from several pieces of boxwood which have been glued together to form one figurehead. There is a shoulder length bust of George III in classical dress, wearing a laurel leaf crown. Below, is a shield with the Union flag pre-1801, carved on and surrounded by putti. Behind the bust and shield, are two large female figures sitting on brickwork/castlations mounts, supported by figures representing the four continents. Behind the heads of these two figures are smaller, winged figures of Victory and Peace with a male lion beneath Victory, and a crowned and wreathed shield with a royal coat of arms beneath Peace. On the lower front edges, are two mythological/classical creatures: One appears to be a double headed dragon, the other a female figure or creature. Both have parts missing. Two standing putti complete the lower part of the figurehead and are holding the horn of plenty and a globe (?). There are several parts missing from the model, such as hands, faces, feet, foliage and wings.

HMS Tribune

On display in Neptune Court, NMM

A dark curly haired mustachioed male figure in classical drapes, representing a Roman tribune.

Figurehead HMS Thames

On display in East Wing Vestibule

The Figurehead of HMS 'Thames' is a vigorously carved male head-and-shoulders bust, white-painted, of a scowling, bearded river god no doubt intended to represent the spirit of the River Thames. The base of the figure has a carved rope trim around it and the whole stands on an lettered black plinth.

Figurehead Steam Yacht Sunbeam

On display in Neptune Court, NMM

Gold-painted half-length figurehead of Thomas Brassey's steam yacht 'Sunbeam' ,1874, representing a female angel, looking upwards and forwards with hands crossed on the breast. It is based on Brassey’ s daughter Constance Alberta, whose nickname was 'Sunbeam'. Born on 18 February 1868 she died of scarlet fever, aged four, on 24 January 1873 and the 531-ton luxury yacht, launched the following year, commemorates her in both its name and with the figurehead.

Female Figurehead – unidentified (‘crowned Spanish lady’)

On display in Neptune Court, NMM

Figurehead of Spanish two-decker. Female head wearing a crown. Removed by officers of HMS 'Sirius'.

Figurehead HMS Serpent

Kidbrooke Stores, National Maritime Museum

Wooden figurehead from HMS 'Serpent' (1887). The figurehead depicts an Indian snake charmer and is finished with polychrome oil paint: its head, hand and most of one side are missing is the National maritime Museum part(left half). However, the right half of the figurehead was sighted in Spain by David Pulvertaft in 2003. It indicates the complete figure was a bearded man in a cap with a white robe and red sash.

HMS Semiramis

Kidbrooke Stores, National Maritime Museum

The female figure in classical dress, with its right arm raised, is a depiction of Semiramis, the semi-mythical queen of Assyria who is said to have built the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

HMS Russell

Kidbrooke Stores, National Maritime Museum

Figurehead of HMS 'Russell', representing Admiral Edward Russell, 1st Earl of Orford. On the left side is a shield bearing the Union flag inscribed with the name 'LA HOGUE'. This refers to Russell's victory over the French in 1692 in the bay of La Hogue (near Cherbourg) which neutralized the threat of the exiled James II invading England to reclaim his throne from his joint-monarch son-in-law and daughter, King William III and Mary II.

HMS Royal George

Kidbrooke Stores, National Maritime Museum

Figurehead of HMS 'Royal George' in the form of a bust of George IV in Roman armour, crowned with a laurel wreath. Probably all that remains of a very large, full sized figurehead.

HMS Polyphemus

On display in Neptune Court, NMM

Pine figurehead depicting the head of the mythological one-eyed giant Cyclops, blinded by Odysseus (Ulysses) in Homer's 'Odyssey' . It is finished with black oil paint and weighs 63 kilograms.

HMS Penelope

Kidbrooke Stores, National Maritime Museum

Figurehead of HMS 'Penelope' in the form of a kneeling female figure with shoulder length hair. Both arms are crossed over her body and resting on her left knee. The figure is wearing a cloak. The pose of the figure presumably refers to the reserved discretion of Penelope, the faithful wife of Odysseus, who waited patiently for his return from Troy though besieged by suitors.

Figurehead Nelson’s Funeral Car

On display in the Maritime London Gallery, NMM

Figurehead of Nelson's funeral car, the design of which was based on that of a ship, with a beakhead and transom. The carving represents a dark-haired, semi-naked female figure of 'Victory' and/or 'Fame' holding a laurel wreath and palm branch. Her white classical robe is knotted at the waist and is bisected by the supporting beakhead bracket.

HMS Megaera

On display in Neptune Court, NMM

Female figure with head of snakes, it is a representation of Megaera - one of the Furies of Greek mythology.

HMS London

On display in Neptune Court, NMM

Polychrome-painted, pine figurehead of HMS 'London', in the form of a female figure wearing a mural crown (a traditional attribute of cities) which may be based on the White Tower in the Tower of London. '1861' (which, if a date, is not easily explained) is inscribed in the stem post. The right eye is notably higher than the left.

Figurehead – unidentified (lion’s head)

Kidbrooke Stores, National Maritime Museum

Polychrome-painted figurehead in the form of a lion's head, from an unidentified ship.

Figurehead – unidentified (heraldic crowned lion)

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.

HMS Leda

On display in Neptune Court, NMM

A half-length female figure wearing a white dress with scalloped neck line, with a blue pinafore style cloak, fastened at the shoulders. A classical hair style caught in a bun.

Unidentified – Jester

On display in the All Hands Gallery, NMM

Polychrome-painted, restored, figurehead depicting a jester or clown, at full length but entirely armless, in a costume similar to traditional motley, with bells on the tunic, a cloak behind and a fool's cap. The words 'HERE WE ARE AGAIN' are inscribed on the supporting stem-post. This is a catch-phrase originally associated with the great pantomime clown Joseph Grimaldi (1779-1837), and the face might be intended as a likeness, though the costume is not the clown's dress in which Grimaldi is generally recorded.

HMS Implacable

On display in Neptune Court, NMM

Black-and-white painted and gilded bust-length figurehead of HMS 'Implacable', ex- 'Duguay-Trouin', representing a Gorgon from Greek Mythology, with snakes for hair.

HMS Horatio

On display in Neptune Court, NMM

Polychrome painted bust-length figurehead of HMS 'Horatio'. It represents Admiral Lord Nelson (1758-1805), in uniform, wearing a laurel wreath. Nelson lost effective sight in his right eye in 1794, though not the eye itself, at the siege of Calvi, Corsica. With rather naive charm, the figurehead represents this by showing the right eye shut. Laminate wood construction with a separate head.

HMS Hogue

Kidbrooke Stores, National Maritime Museum

Half-length, polychrome-painted, pine figurehead of a lion, from HMS 'Hogue'. The lion holds a shield on which is painted the British royal coat of arms. It is one of the last representatives of a lion tradition which dates back to Elizabethan times.

HMS Himalaya

On display in Neptune Court, NMM

Figurehead of HMS 'Himalaya' , representing an Indian warrior in a turban drawing a sword. Repainted 1959/60.

HMS Serpent

Kidbrooke Stores, National Maritime Museum

A serpent with several coils. The figurehead consists of four parts, FHD0080.1, FHD0080.2 , FHD0080.3 and a sign FHD0080.4.

Stern carving from a naval commissioner’s barge

Kidbrooke Stores, National Maritime Museum

Stern carving from a naval commissioner's barge. The wooden carving is decorated with a foul anchor of the Navy Board, flanked by two dolphins with a lion's head above. Strings of pearls and shells are placed below the dolphins.

HMS Frederick William

On display in Neptune Court, NMM

Figurehead from HMS 'Frederick William', representing HRH Prince Frederick William III of Prussia (1770-1840). Shows a dark haired man with long sideburns and thick moustache, in naval uniform with a sash across his chest.

HMS Forester

Kidbrooke Stores, National Maritime Museum

A male bust figurehead with dark wavy hair and sideburns. He is wearing a dark green tunic.

HMS Favourite

Kidbrooke Stores, National Maritime Museum

Figurehead of HMS 'Favourite', comprising a half length female figure in a high-waisted, off the shoulder dress with square neckline and pearl necklace, with a rose in her hair. Her hair is curled at the front and tied up at the back.


All Hands Gallery, NMM

A half length figurehead which depicts a dark haired bearded river god wearing a crown. He is bare chested and has red cloth draped around his waist. The figurehead has been painted with polychrome oil paint and weighs 122 kilograms.

HMS Daphne

Kidbrooke Stores, National Maritime Museum

Half-length polychrome female bust figurehead of HMS 'Daphne', wearing green garment with red and brown sash at waist. A large gold star adorns the centre of her waist.

HMS Canopus

Kidbrooke Stores, National Maritime Museum

Figurehead from an 80-gun 3rd rate, formerly the French 'Franklin'. A bust-length Figurehead representing a classical warrior in a plumed helmet, from HMS 'Canopus'. Inscription reads: 'Canopus'.

HMS Bristol

On display in Neptune Court, NMM

A yellow-ochre painted female head which formed the figurehead of HMS 'Bristol'. The original figurehead was a three quarter length bust of which the head and neck has survived.

HMS Blenheim

On display in Neptune Court, NMM

A male figure in uniform, with sash and order on the right breast, wearing a victor's laurel wreath. It sits on a fiddle-headed scroll bearing the Spencer-Churchill arms in the trailboards, as granted to the family in 1733. This figure has long been associated with the 1st Duke of Marlborough, but has not been positively identified.

HMS Atalanta

On display in Neptune Court, NMM

It represents Atalanta, the Arcadian huntress of Greek mythology in a classical-style green dress with red and gold band under the bustline. The left breast is shown bare and the arms are missing.

Classical Warrior

National Maritime Museum

Bust of Greek or Roman warrior in a natural dark wood finish. In plumed helmet, half-length.

HMS Seagull

Kidbrooke Stores, National Maritime Museum

A seabird perched on a scroll in a crouched position with wings partly spread. Painted: multi-coloured.

HMS Seringapatam

On display in the Traders Gallery, NMM

Figurehead of HMS 'Seringapatam'. The seated turbanned figure is, perhaps erroneously, presumed to represent Tipu Sultan, ruler of Mysore, riding on a roc - a mythical bird of great strength. The upper part of the body is unclothed, more like an elephant mahout, with the right arm raised to support a sun umbrella made of metal. The umbrella, normally born by attendants, is both a practical accoutrement and a symbol of the status of the person sheltered. Tipu was the son and successor of Haidar Ali, Sultan of Mysore, both having a long and bloody antagonism to the extension of British rule in India. Tipu's capital of Seringapatam was finally stormed in 1799 by troops under Sir David Baird, who had also fought his father, when his body was discovered shot through the head under a pile of his supporters'. One of the famous items in the Victoria and Albert Museum is the automaton known as 'Tipoo's tiger' - a large clockwork-driven carved toy comprising a wooden tiger savaging a British soldier, which also originally emitted mechanical growls and screams: this was part of the booty taken from Tipu's palace. This piece is also Indian work.

HMS Harlequin

On display in Neptune Court, NMM

The half-length bust, armless figurehead of HMS 'Harlequin'. It represents the masked and capped figure of a harlequin, in traditional multi-coloured dress and with a blue cloak resting on a scroll head. Harlequin, Arlecchino, is a traditional Italian 'commedia dell'arte' figure, best known in Britain as a character in traditional pantomime of the late 18th and early 19th century.

HMS Bulldog

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.

HMS Daring

Kidbrooke Stores, National Maritime Museum

Bust-length polychrome-painted figurehead of 'HMS 'Daring', representing a naval seaman with his arms crossed, in contemporary dress and wearing a straw hat. The name 'Daring' is inscribed on the cap ribbon and across his chest under the folded arms. There is an anchor badge, possibly for a leading seaman, on his left arm. Although he appears to be wearing uniform, it can only have been a customary one since their was no official Royal Naval uniform for ratings until 1857.

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