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Lion figurehead


Object connections:

Collection Figureheads
ExhibitionsNelson, Navy, Nation
User collections Collectables (All) by blueheatwave
Collectables (UK) by blueheatwave
Gallery locationNelson, Navy, Nation Gallery (Floor plans)
PeopleHistorical Association/Depiction: Saint George

Object details:

Object ID FHD0088
Description 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.
Date made circa 1720

Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Materials wood; oil paint
Measurements Overall: 92 in x 20 in x 23 in x 180 kg
  • Lion figurehead (FHD0088)
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