Figurehead of the HMS Rolla

Basic Information

Figurehead type
Figurehead of the HMS Rolla
Vessel name
HMS Rolla
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 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.
James Dickerson
Date made
Place made
Plymouth Dockyard
Object history
The figurehead was made for the sum of £3.0.0. The ship was broken up in 1868 and the figurehead became part of the Chatham museum, as listed in the 1911 Admiralty catalogue. 'Rolla' was kept for a brief time at the Admiralty Superintendent's house, before Chatham Dockyard closed in 1984. The figurehead was then moved to HMS 'Sussex' before the Sussex Division closed in 1994. It is now in the Portsmouth collection at NMRN.
Vessel history
HMS 'Rolla' was built and was launched at Plymouth Dockyard in December 1829. A well traveled but small vessel, 10 gun brig sloop, 231bm, 90ft she was stationed on the West African coast engaged in anti-slave trade patrols before eventually returning to Portsmouth in 1847 for service as a training ship and later a tender to Victory. 'Rolla' was broken up in 1868 at Portsmouth Dockyard.

David Pulvertaft ‘The Warship Figureheads of Portsmouth’ (Stroud, 2009) p.52
Admiralty Catalogue(1911) No 214

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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