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Friday, 23 August 2013

200-year-old replica ship ‘The Severn’ goes on public display for the first time at Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire

 A to-scale model of the Bristol-built gun ship The Severn, found last year in a locked cupboard at Berkeley Castle, has been formally identified and is going on public display for the first time in September 2013. It was built as a model for ship-builders to use in the dockyard to check dimensions for the full-sized ship. The Severn was launched in Bristol in April 1786.

Charles Berkeley with 'The Severn'

The inscription on the painted frieze around the top of its original case states: The Severn a fifth rate of 44 guns built at Bristol & launched in April 1786 under inspection of John Miall of His Majesty’s Navy, length of the keel 139-10, breadth moulded 37-10 ½, burthen in tons 877.

These facts appear accurate according to David Lyon, The Sailing Navy List, Conway Maritime Press, 1993.

Simon Stephens and Richard Endsor of the National Maritime Museum have assessed the ship and have found it to be a genuine, original scale model. Its dimensions indicate that it was made to the standard navy board scale of ¼ inch to the foot and was likely made as a working model for the dockyard, used to ensure that the full-sized version timbers were cut to the correct length.

The ship was discovered in a locked cupboard in the Castle last year and its significance, as a piece of British naval history, is welcome news. It adds to the sizeable archive collection of maritime paintings and memorabilia held at Berkeley Castle.

Charles Berkeley, of Berkeley Castle, said;

“My family has a well-charted history of Royal naval involvement and I am thrilled to be able to share this beautiful instructional piece of history with Berkeley Castle visitors. I hope that its obvious craftsmanship is of interest to young and old alike.”

The Severn will be displayed in the Picture Gallery, alongside an existing model of an unidentified 70 gun ship which is thought to have been commissioned by one of the Berkeley family to commemorate their time served in the Royal Navy. The Picture Gallery houses a mainly Dutch collection of paintings, including a number of pictures featuring ships with a Berkeley connection. Sporting and hunting subjects are also shown, with a fine painting by George Stubbs as the centrepiece.

The Severn was wrecked at Granville Bay, Jersey, on 21 December 1804. The Berkeley Castle team would be interested to hear from anyone with a known involvement with the ship – either its building in Bristol or its naval history. You can contact the Berkeley Castle Estate team by emailing info@berkeley-castle.com.

 

 

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Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire, GL13 9BQ

Email: info@berkeley-castle.com

Tel: 01453 810303

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