Sovereign of the Seas was a 17th-century warship of the English Navy. She was ordered as a 90-gun first-rate ship of the line of the English Royal Navy, but at launch was armed with 102 bronze guns at the insistence of the king. It was later renamed Sovereign, and then Royal Sovereign.The ship was launched on October 13, 1637 and served from 1638 until 1697, when a fire burnt the ship to the waterline at Chatham.
Sovereign of the Seas was ordered in August 1634 on the personal initiative of Charles I of England, who desired a giant Great Ship to be built. The decision provoked much opposition from the Brethren of Trinity House, who pointed out that “There is no port in the Kingdom that can harbor this ship. The wild sea must bee her port, her anchors and cables her safety; if either fail, the ship must perish, the King loose his jewel, four or five hundred man must die, and perhaps some great and noble peer”. But the King overcame the objections with the help of John Pennington and from May 1635 she was built by Peter Pett (later a Commissioner of the Navy), under the guidance of his father Phineas, the king’s master shipwright, and was launched at Woolwich Dockyard on October 13, 1637. As the second three-decked first-rate (the first three-decker being the Prince Royal of 1610), she was the predecessor of Nelson’s Victory, although the Revenge, built in 1577 by Mathew Baker, was the inspiration for her, providing the innovation of a single deck devoted entirely to broadside guns.
She was the most extravagantly decorated warship in the Royal Navy, completely adorned from stern to bow with gilded carvings against a black background, made by John Christmas and Mathias Christmas after a design by Anthony van Dyck. The money spent making her, £65,586 (equal to £10,783,075 today), helped to create the financial crisis for Charles I that contributed to the English Civil War. Charles had imposed a special tax, the ‘Ship Money’, to make possible such large naval expenditure. The gilding alone cost £6,691 (equal to £1,100,076 today), which in those days was the price of an average warship. She carried 102 bronze cannon (King Charles explicitly ordered such a high number) and was thereby at the time the most powerfully armed ship in the world. The cannon were made by John Browne.
Mantua’s kit is every bit as magnificent as the original. Authentic detailing includes 675 solid bronze ornamental pieces to adorn her stern, decks and hull — each cast individually by the lost wax method. The hull is double-planked in basswood and walnut, and all wooden parts are laser cut for a perfect fit.
- Blocks and deadeyes are pre-finished walnut.
- Other fittings are brass, copper and cast white metal.
- You’ll arm your vessel with 102 burnished metal cannon, and rig her with several diameters of seized cotton line.
- Eight sheets of plans are accompanied by a comprehensive instruction book.
- Length 43″ / Height 39″ / Scale 1:78.
- Paint set available here