Restored Figurehead from H.M.S CHESAPEAKE

Pictured with the figurehead is London Medway receptionist, Michelle Newton.

Restored Figurehead from H.M.S CHESAPEAKE of 1834

The fourth rate steam frigate H.M.S Chesapeake was built at Chatham in 1855 to replace the earlier U.S.S Chesapeake, which was captured from the Americans at Boston bay on the 1st of July 1813, when she met with H.M.S. Shannon. In the engagement which lasted just fifteen minutes, Chesapeake received severe damage. With her sails short away she was boarded, amidst her dying captains famous words “Don’t give up the ship”.

Chesapeake was taken to Halifax where she was repaired and taken into the Royal Navy. She sailed for England and later served at Cape Town, before returning to England, where she was broken up at Portsmouth in 1820. Parts of her timbers still survive in the flour mill at Wickham, Hampshire.

The replacement Chesapeake, from which this figurehead was taken, was ordered in 1834, but put on hold as the navy sought to embrace the age of steam, and finally launched in September of 1855. The figurehead is a representation of Pocahontas and originally carved by the famous Hellyer family of ship carvers based at Portsmouth. The ship was broken up in 1867 at Sheerness, and the figure mounted by the main gate to the yard. By 1990 the main body had suffered severely from rot, which was held at bay by repairs using fibreglass. In 2008 the figure was removed to the workshop of Maritima Woodcarving, for a complete restoration using traditional materials.


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