17 January 2016

The Maritime Museum

Next stop after the Cutty Sark and lunch was the brilliant Maritime Museum. We're lucky having so many free museums in London offering information, history and great exhibitions.

The National Maritime Museum Greenwich is the leading Maritime museum of the UK and may be the largest museum of its kind in the world. This historic building forms part of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage site, which also incorporates the Royal Observatory and the 17th century Queen's House. 

I took 114 photos! no please don't go, I'm not going to show you all of them,
but it has been difficult deciding which ones to use.

King George V battleship built by Vickers-Armstrong Ltd in 1940 
difficult to see properly with reflections from the glass.

Buoys and Beacons
Herberts patent floating buoy; Herberts patent floating lighthouse; The Kentish Knock. 
The Kentish Knock was a Trinity House light vessel stationed in the Thames estuary. Light vessels had to be towed to and from their station. They were manned by a crew of ten. Traditionally they were painted red to make them conspicuous in daylight.

Eddystone lighthouse painted by Isaac Sailmaker. The Eddystone was the first offshore rock to be marked by a lighthouse. The original lighthouse was washed away in the great storm of 1703. The tower in this painting is its replacement.

                                                                                              The components needed


Grace Darling was the daughter of the keeper of the Longstone lighthouse. One stormy night in 1838 a paddle steamer was wrecked on some nearby rocks. Grace and her father, William 
set out into the gale in their open rowing boat to rescue the survivors.

Ajax and Bulldog figureheads. 
Ajax the warrior was celebrated in ancient Greek mythology.
The bulldog is a symbol of British aggression and tenacity. 
The leaping bulldog has the words CAVE CANEM (beware of the dog) inscribed on its collar. 

My favourite, Sunbeam, the child angel. It's a sad one. This gold painted half length figurehead was commissioned for politician Thomas Brassey's (later Earl Brassey) steam yacht "Sunbeam". It was based on his daughter Constance, whose nickname was Sunbeam. Born in Feb 1868, only four years into her little life she died of scarlet fever.

Ship's badges 

In 1894 the Royal Navy abolished figureheads for major vessels, after the introduction of new steam powered iron ships. In 1918 badges were introduced as the official symbol of a ship's identity.

Travelling in style
Frederick's Barge. In 1732 this limousine barge was built for Frederick, Prince of Wales. 
In the 18th century travelling by boat on the Thames was the fastest way to get around.

The Traders: the East India Company and Asia gallery.

For over 250 years the East India Company shaped trade between Britain and Asia, becoming enormously wealthy in the process and even taking on pirates with its own navy. This gallery looks at the commodities the company traded, the people who shaped its tumultuous career and the conflicts and rebellions that were its ultimate undoing, as well as its continuing impact on the world today.

The gallery features Japanese, Chinese and Burmese swords; beautifully crafted ship models and navigational instruments; Nelson’s Japan-pattern breakfast service; medals, journals, timepieces, spices, fabrics that shaped our fashions, tea which transformed from a luxury to a favourite national past time. Also involvement in the drug trade, resulting in two wars with China.

Opium was outlawed by the Chinese authorities 
but demand for it was provided by imports from India. 
This thriving illegal trade was the darker side of Britain's insatiable taste for tea.

HMS Seringapatam was a 46 gun warship launched at the Bombay dockyard in 1819.
This quirky chap was her figurehead.
It's thought to represent Tipu Sultan of Mysore riding a roc - a mythical bird of great strength.
As the ruler of an extensive empire in southern India, Tipu opposed the extension of Company rule in India.

Admiral Sir William Sidney Smith, Admiral James de Saumarez, Admiral Sir Edward Pellew and Captain Sir William Peel. What fine, handsome chaps they were.

This beautiful tranquil area houses stained glass windows 
from the Baltic Exchange building known as the half-dome. 
It is a fusion of classical and religious symbolism which celebrates the heroism and triumph of war. 
I'm not sure war is held in such high esteem nowadays though. 

The stunning Virtue Windows depict Hope, Fortitude, Justice, Truth and Faith.
The Romans established a long list of virtues as qualities to which all human beings should aspire. 

The virtues are common themes in Medieval and Renaissance art, 
where they are traditionally depicted as women

The Navy offered rewards for all those who joined. When an enemy ship was captured it and its cargo became a legal "prize". When the cargo was sold the gains were shared among the captors.
The prize money was sometimes a vast fortune and although the captain and officers took the majority, seamen also received a share.

Frigates were the workhorses of the Navy. 
They escorted convoys, acted as scouts, carried information and attacked enemy trade.

The Borough of Dover freedom casket 1918-19 was presented to Vice-Admiral Sir Roger Keyes
for his role in planning the Zeebrugge raid 

City of Hull freedom casket 1919-20 was presented to Admiral Beatty.
Hull was a key port for supplying seamen and vessels to the war effort.

There is also the excellent Nelson gallery and one covering both world wars but I only
had time to either enjoy the displays or rush around taking photos, I chose the former.

We finished our day at the Royal Observatory - up next


  1. Fascinating post Polly with great photos. We really are so lucky to have all this history and that it's so accessible. Looking forward to the next post! xx

    1. Thank you Sarah, glad you enjoyed it, hope enjoy the next one x

  2. Hello Polly,
    How lovely! thank you for sharing these beautiful pictures! I especially love the stained glass.
    Big hug

    1. Hello Giac, thank you for your lovely comments. The stained glass is one of my favourites x

  3. Another of my old favourite haunts. I still haven't brought myself to go inside since my Grandad died as he used to go around telling me things about the place and we would end up with a crowd as they thought he was a guide! :) One day!! xx

    1. ah bless him, I know how much he meant to you, he sounds like a lovely man. You will know when the time is right, then you can visit with a smile on your face as you walk around and remember all the things he told you x

  4. I'm enjoying this tour of Greenwich. I've been there a couple of times and this brings back fond memories. I especially enjoyed all the history of the tea trade, so interesting.

    1. Hello Amalia, I'm so glad you enjoyed it. I enjoyed writing it. History is so interesting, I try to imagine people from those times.

  5. And why, pray, are virtues depicted as women..? Jesting aside - great post. It's years since I visited here - so long ago that I can hardly remember it. You have covered it really well. I am hoping for a chance to get to Greenwich before too long when I'm next in London - there's so much to see and do around there.

    1. Mrs B will explain it Mike :-).. Many thanks for your compliment. I've only been to Greenwich in the winter months, so I'm hoping to go this summer. You're right there is so much to see and do, I love the markets.

  6. We are all truly blessed to have such wonderful heritage. You took us on a wonderful tour. Looking forward to reading more.

    1. Many thanks. Hope you enjoy the next installment :-)

  7. I would love to visit this museum and I know my husband would enjoy it immensely.

    1. Hello Gillian, it's brilliant, the whole are of Greenwich is a great place to visit. I hope you manage to get there.

  8. It was very big, beautiful & awesome place. Can enjoy with family & friends.

  9. It was very big, beautiful & awesome place. Can enjoy with family & friends.

  10. It was very big, beautiful & awesome place. Can enjoy with family & friends.


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