November Artifact of the Month – HMS Royal Sovereign Model, c. 1804

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Hello faithful followers! This month’s artifact focuses on a model ship built for King George III of England. He was the British king under which the American colonies revolted and declared their independence from in the American Revolution of 1775. In 1804, the real HMS Royal Sovereign was built for King George III, however due to old age and a touch of mental illness; it was thought to be he didn’t use it following 1805. His illness led him to allow for a regency to rule in 1811, even though he was immensely popular. He ruled for a grand total of 59 years, the third longest ruling British monarch, behind his granddaughter Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II, the current Queen of England.

 

HMS Royal Sovereign Model, courtesy of The Mariners' Museum.
HMS Royal Sovereign Model, courtesy of The Mariners’ Museum.

 

The Royal Sovereign was the last ship in which he sailed prior to his death in 1820. In reality, it was about 96 feet long and armed with eight guns, while the model measures 1/4 inch to the foot. The actual ship was used for about thirty years before being decommissioned and serving as a depot ship until it was broken up in 1850. The model maker was unknown, but it was thought to be built for George to either show him all of the beautiful benefits of the yacht, or for personal enjoyment and decoration. It has a removable top deck, which reveals beautiful interior details. There are furnishings, carpet, miniature paintings, and even people inside the model. It shows the galley, sitting room, dining room, King’s bedroom, and even circular ladders descending to a lower deck. The outside of the ship are decorated with medallions representing the Four Cardinal Virtues as women, while the stern is decorated with the figure of Neptune in his car. Over the windows there are figures of the four Quarters of the World, and all of these decorative aspects are represented on the model, as a complete replica of the actual ship.  It is an extremely detailed representation of the ship, and provides a fascinating look at what time spent on the ship would be like. Because the maker is unknown, there was not that much information to be gained about the creation of the ship. It was donated to The Mariners’ Museum in 1984, by the Kriegstein family. Roman Kriegstein, and his two sons Henry and Arnold, compiled a collection of about ten models of Admiralty Board ships ranging from the seventeenth century through the beginning of the nineteenth century. This model of the Royal Sovereign was a part of their collection.

 

Inside of HMS Royal Sovereign Model, courtesy of The Mariners' Museum. (look at how small the people are!
Inside of HMS Royal Sovereign Model, courtesy of The Mariners’ Museum. (look at how small the people are!

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