Figurehead of the HMS Actaeon

Basic Information

Figurehead type
Figurehead of the HMS Actaeon
Vessel name
HMS Actaeon
Type (Naval/Merchant)
Copyright owner
© National Museum of the Royal Navy
Copyright notes
Photo: © National Museum of the Royal Navy
Current location
National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth
Location date

Physical Information

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.
Dickerson of Devonport
Date made
Place made
Object history
A replacement figurehead made by Dickerson of Devonport 1844. It is not known if any repairs were made to it whilst in service. The ship was broken up by John Read in 1889 and the figurehead presented to the Portsmouth Collection.
Vessel history
HMS 'Actaeon' was built and launched from Portsmouth Dockyard in 1831. A 6th rate, 28 gun vessel, she served in China in 1856-60, during the Second Opium War. In 1866 she became a cholera hospital ship in the Isle of Wight, later becoming a hulk. In 1870 she was transferred to Cork Harbour Board. In 1874 upon her return to Portsmouth she became part of the gunnery establishment HMS 'Excellent'. HMS 'Actaeon' was replaced in 1885 and then sold to John Read of Portsmouth, eventually being broken up in 1889.
David Pulvertaft ‘The Warship Figureheads of Portsmouth'(Stroud, 2009) p.54
David Pulvertaft 'Figureheads Of The Royal Navy(Seaforth, 2011) p.204
Admiralty Catalogue(1911) No 337

Ownership Information

Owner type
Public Institution
Owner name
National Museum of the Royal Navy
Contact details
National Museum of the Royal Navy, HM Naval Base (PP66), Portsmouth PO1 3NH
Ownership can be cited online
Accessible to public
Data verified by owner
Date verified

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