Thursday, 27 August 2015

Sovereign of the Seas / Commonwealth - build

I am building a wooden model of a large British warship. 

Originally commissioned the Sovereign of the Seas by Charles 1 (1637), the ship remained in service for an extended period of time, and saw service for the Commonwealth of England, initially renamed Commonwealth. It is remarkable ship because of the deliberate decision to make this ship attack by broadside, rather than chase, with heavy guns on all decks.

This build is intended to be of the ship as at the battle of Kentish Knock, before becoming the flagship of General at Sea Robert Blake. The reconstruction itself is based on painting of capital ships at the Battle of Terheide (Anglo-Dutch War) by Jan Abrahamsz. I have chosen this form in order the better understand the early period of the Commonwealth, which laid the seeds for its failure and the restoration even as it started.

Laid up for work from 1650-1, the ship's armament had previously been reduced from 118 to 90 guns. Initially the vessel had been 'cut down' but then her upper works was reduced and armament increased to 106 guns. After the refit the first battle she fought in was against the Dutch in which she ran aground on the Kentish Knock and repeatedly occupied by the Dutch but fought off each time. She was held, after the refit, to be the best ship in the navy - retaining the title (despite the vicissitudes of time) until destroyed in dock by fire in 1697.

On Restoration, the decks were flattened and "most of the decoration removed" suggesting that some remained at that time, but was not to the royal's liking.

I have commenced the build using the frame-work provided by the fine De Agostini model of the Sovereign of the Seas.


Applying deck and a first layer of hull planking.

Gunports, second framing and painting the top gun deck.

Waist line and starting interior of gun ports.

Peter Quinton

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