Royal Barge of Frederick, Prince of Wales, 1732

£5.00

State Barges on the Thames

Availability: In stock

This barge was built in 1732 for Frederick, Prince of Wales, the eldest son of George II, and was used by him until his death in 1751, when it passed to the Crown and was used by succeeding sovereigns and princes until 1849. It has fortunately been preserved and is on view at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. Essentially an up-river craft and possessing the fine lines and sharp bow of a Thames wherry (1) or skiff, it is 19.2 m (63 ft) long and 2 m (7 ft) wide, with a house only 2 m (7 ft) long. The stern is decorated with the Prince of Wales’s feathers enclosed in a scallop shell and the Garter Star sur rounded by dolphins, supported by figures of mermaids on the quarters. The crown now surmounting the house is a later addition. It was originally designed to pull twelve oars but was later adapted to pull twenty-one. The shipwright was John Hall, but the design and decoration are by William Kent, the architect. Others involved were James Richards, the carver, and Paul Pettit, painter and gilder. The total cost of the barge was £1,002. 8s. 7d., exclusive of architect’s fees. The Prince is said to have remarked that he thought the barge too fine, but on being reminded that fine sights pleased the people and it was good-natured to entertain them, he replied: ‘Kindness should be reciprocal; when the people do all they can to gratify their Prince, the latter should oblige them in his turn.’

Dimensions 38 × 23 cm