The Iberian Flame: Reader Reviewers Wanted!

The Iberian Flame is the next book in the Kydd series, out in June. Five Early Copies will be up for grabs for reader reviewers! For a chance to win one just email julian@julianstockwin.com with ‘Iberian Flame Reviewer’ in the subject line. Please include your full postal address. Deadline: May 7. The first five drawn out of the hat will be the winning copies and will go out mid-May.

IberianFlame cover

Here’s a taster of the book:

1808. With the Peninsula in turmoil, Napoleon Bonaparte signs a treaty to dismember Portugal and put his brother, Joseph, on the throne of Spain. Meanwhile, Nicholas Renzi, the Lord Farndon, undertakes a deadly mission to stir up partisan unrest to disrupt this Napoleonic alliance with Spain.

Thrust into the crucible of the uprising, Captain Sir Thomas Kydd is dismayed to come up against an old foe from his past – now his superior and commander – who is determined to break him. Kydd will soon face the greatest decision of his professional career. Bonaparte, incensed by the reverses suffered to his honour, gathers together a crushing force and marches at speed into Spain. After several bloody encounters the greatly outnumbered British expedition have no option other than make a fighting retreat to the coast. Only the Navy can save them.
But the flame of insurrection has been lit – and the Peninsular War has begun.

‘Quarterdeck’ featured the book in the latest issue:

‘The Iberian Flame is classic Stockwin, driven by a gripping pace that begs the reader to turn page after page to learn what happens next. As with previous titles in the canon, the writing is strong, creating a delightful and ever-expanding historical canvas.’

(Download the magazine)


The Iberian Flame will be published in hardback, ebook and audio download on June 14 in the UK by Hodder & Stoughton. It will also be available in the States in ebook and audiodownload at that time, with the hardback coming out in August

Stockwin Titles: What’s Out When (updated)

IberianFlameHB_packshot2018 is shaping up to be a busy publishing year for me. As well as two new Kydd titles, The Iberian Flame and A Sea of Gold in hardback, there are two paperbacks of previous titles coming out. As usual, all the books will also be available in ebook and audiobook. So here are the publications dates for this year
June 14 The Iberian Flame launched in ebook and audio download worldwide.
Out in hardback in the UK and Australia/New Zealand. (The Iberian Flame will also be available as a trade paperback in Australia/New Zealand.)
The Baltic Prize out in paperback in the UK and Australia/New Zealand.
August 14 The Iberian Flame released in hardback in the US and Canada along with The Baltic Prize in paperback
October 18 The Iberian Flame out in paperback in the UK
November 1  A Sea of Gold published in hardback, audiobook and ebook worldwide. Out in hardback in the UK, Australia, New Zealand. (A Sea of Gold will also be available as a trade paperback in Australia & New Zealand)
[Jan 8, 2019] A Sea of Gold hardback out in the US and Canada
There are still just a few Collectors Sets available but these are strictly limited to 500 Sets so don’t delay to avoid disappointment.

And from time to time I have a very small number of Signed First Editions available to purchase

And last but not least, do check out Book Depository for discounts and free shipping worldwide of all my books

Stockwin Titles: What’s Out When

IberianFlameHB_packshot2018 is shaping up to be a busy publishing year for me. As well as two new Kydd titles, The Iberian Flame and A Sea of Gold in hardback, there are two paperbacks of previous titles coming out. As usual, all the books will also be available in ebook and audiobook. So here are the publications dates for this year
June 14 The Iberian Flame hardback, ebook and audio download plus The Baltic Prize paperback out in the UK
June 14 The Iberian Flame ebook and audio download available in the US
August 14 The Iberian Flame hardback out in the US
August 14 The Iberian Flame trade paperback released in Canada
October 1 Inferno paperback published in US
October 3 Persephone hardback out in the US and trade paperback in Canada
November 1  The Sea of Gold out in hardback, audiobook and ebook in the UK
November 1 A Sea of Gold released in ebook in the US
[Jan 2, 2019] A Sea of Gold hardback out in the US and Canada
There are still just a few Collectors Sets available but these are strictly limited to 500 Sets so don’t delay to avoid disappointment.
And from time to time I have a very small number of Signed First Editions available to purchase

And last but not least, do check out Book Depository for discounts and free shipping worldwide of all my books

BookPick: The Undersea World

Readers of the Kydd series will recall several mentions of machines that enable humans to swim with the fishes. In Invasion Kydd meets the gifted but enigmatic inventor Robert Fulton and his prototype submarine. And in Inferno Kydd himself braves the world beneath the waves in a diving contraption. I have warm memories of learning to scuba dive in the Philippines and thrown in free was an amazing close encounter with a twenty-ton whale shark! This month’s BookPicks focus on two different aspects of the undersea world, with a magnificent new book from Iain Ballantyne on the military deployment of submarines and a delightful little tome on the quest for treasure in shipwrecks. There’s also a special contest at the end of this blog for two lucky readers to win a copy of Ballantyne’s book.

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The Deadly Trade by Iain Ballantyne

march blog 1At over 700 pages, this thrilling narrative certainly justifies its subtitle: The Complete History of Submarine Warfare from Archimedes to the Present. Considered ineffectual and originally derided and loathed in equal measure – their crews viewed as no better than pirates – submarines have over the centuries evolved into the most powerful and terrifying vessels at sea, some carrying enough nuclear weapons to destroy mankind.

Using key episodes of submarine warfare – including the first sinking of a ship by a submersible during the American Civil War, the legendary struggles of WWI and WWII and the deadly shadow games of the Cold War Ballantyne’s history addresses not just how these vessels evolved but highlights the human cost of those who risked their lives under the sea, often with fatal consequences. The Deadly Trade also deals with the resurgence of submarines as political and military tools in recent conflicts.

Enhanced with well-chosen photographs and maps, along with comprehensive appendices and notes, this epic story should appeal not just to those who venture into Neptune’s Realm but students of history and politics – and any with a fascination for the efforts of dreamers and inventors over the ages.

Diving for Treasure by Vic Verlinden and Stefan Panis

March blog 2Having enjoyed reading Dive Scapa Flow I looked forward to this new diving book from Whittles Publishing. The authors, both skilled divers and underwater photographers, discuss seventeen undersea wrecks – presenting details and a brief history of each vessel, including the manner of their demise and the cargo they were carrying at the time.

Verlinden and Panis personally visited and photographed the wrecks and as many of the these lie at great depths diving on them posed considerable personal and technical challenges. It is sobering to note that salvage operations often extend over a long time – it took seven years to recover the bulk of the 43 tons (!) of gold aboard SS Laurentic.

This book will appeal to all those who venture into Neptune’s underwater realm, whether active or armchair, and to anyone with an interest in maritime/military history.


Win a copy of ‘The Deadly Trade’
For a chance to win a copy email julian@julianstockwin.com with the name of the maritime magazine which Iain Ballantyne edits.
Please include your full postal address.
Two winners will be drawn at random from all correct entries.
Deadline: Midnight GMT Thursday 22 March

BookPick: Four for February

As a change from my largely sea-oriented selections this BookPick focuses on life ashore – with a witty discourse on the Georgian world of the elegant dining room, and the amazing story of Mrs Biggs, who certainly didn’t conform to the time’s expectations of her sex. As well, there’s a light-hearted compilation of animal tales of the 18th and 19th centuries, and an account of the last governor of Hong Kong, a colony that grew from a barren rock in Kydd’s day to a global powerhouse.

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The Pug Who Bit Napoleon by Mimi Matthews

Feb1From elaborate Victorian cat funerals to a Regency-era pony who took a ride in a hot air balloon, Matthews shares some of the quirkiest and most poignant animal tales of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. And who knew that a dog disrupted Napoleon’s wedding night! Based on eighteenth and nineteenth century books, letters, journals, and newspapers, these animal tales, sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking, provide a fascinating read for animal lovers of all ages. Enhanced with colour illustrations, this is delightful book to dip into!

A Georgian Heroine by Joanne Major and Sarah Murden

Feb2In an age when society had certain expectations of women Rachel Charlotte Williams Biggs stands out. She emerged from an unhappy marriage to become a playwright and author, a political pamphleteer, and a spy, working for the British Government and later singlehandedly organising George III s jubilee celebrations. Trapped in France during the revolutionary years of 1792-95, she published an anonymous account of her adventures. The extraordinary Mrs Biggs lived life upon her own terms in an age when it was a man’s world, using politicians as her mouthpiece in the Houses of Parliament and corresponding with the greatest men of the day.

The Last Governor by Jonathan Dimbleby

Feb3Kathy and I were privileged to have lived in Hong Kong for more than a dozen years leading up to the complex events detailed in this book. In 1992, Chris Patten was appointed Hong Kong’s last governor. The first of July, 1997 marked the end of British rule of the territory, and Patten saw the colony passing into the hands of the People’s Republic of China. Setting the episode in both its human and historical contexts, Dimbleby presents some interesting conclusions about the conduct of British foreign policy on Hong Kong before and during Patten’s tenure. First published a decade ago this weighty tome, reprinted this year, documents an extraordinary diplomatic, political and personal drama.

Elegant Etiquette in the Nineteenth Century by Mallory James

Feb4Covering the intricacies of rank, the niceties of the street, the good conduct that was desired in the ballroom and the awkward blunders that a lady or gentleman would want to avoid, this is a lively, occasionally tongue-in-cheek discourse on nineteenth century manners and conduct. Based on advice given in the etiquette manuals of the time a useful reference for anyone interested in this fascinating period. And the Notes on each chapter and bibliography provide pointers for delving further into the world of polite society 200 years ago.


Still looking for bookish inspiration?

You might also like to take a peek at my other BookPicks this year this year
And I have a very limited number of Signed First Editions, which I’m happy to inscribe with a personal message
Enjoy!

The IBERIAN FLAME Collectors Set

IberianFlameHB_packshotThis year there will be two Kydd titles released; the first is The Iberian Flame, out in June. The second, A Sea of Gold, will be launched in November. As usual, I will be offering a Collectors Set for each. These signed, numbered and embossed First Edition Sets are strictly limited in number to 500 only. I’m happy to write a short dedication on request. The Subscription List for The Iberian Flame is filling rapidly so if you’re interested don’t delay to avoid disappointment. Payment is via the links here

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Here’s what two of my editors have said of the manuscript of The Iberian Flame:

‘Congratulations on another masterful outing and one that will be a delight to both your fans and fans of historical fiction alike.’

‘Many congratulations on another gripping instalment in the career and life of Thomas Kydd. This is, as ever, a magnificent yarn, on land and at sea. Great characters – and marvellously wrought backdrops (you bring them so expertly to life), in seascapes, landscapes and cities or towns. A compelling, absorbing story.’

And here’s a taster of the story:

“1808. With the Peninsula in turmoil, Napoleon Bonaparte signs a treaty to dismember Portugal and put his brother, Joseph, on the throne of Spain. Meanwhile, Nicholas Renzi, the Lord Farndon, undertakes a deadly mission to stir up partisan unrest to disrupt this Napoleonic alliance with Spain.

Thrust into the crucible of the uprising, Captain Sir Thomas Kydd is dismayed to come up against an old foe from his past – now his superior and commander – who is determined to break him. Kydd will soon face the greatest decision of his professional career.

Bonaparte, incensed by the reverses suffered to his honour, gathers together a crushing force and marches at speed into Spain. After several bloody encounters the greatly outnumbered British expedition have no option other than make a fighting retreat to the coast. Only the Navy can save them.

But the flame of insurrection has been lit – and the Peninsular War has begun.”


The Iberian Flame will be published in hardback, ebook and audio download on June 14 in the UK by Hodder & Stoughton. It will also be available in the States in ebook and audiodownload at that time, with the hardback coming out in August.

 

BookPick: Winter Selection

As this new year begins here’s a trio of books that caught my eye. They’re all very much sea-focused so whether you’re a student of the role of the British Navy 1793-1815, drawn to great epic tales of survival or seeking to learn more about navigation at sea I think there’s something that will appeal. And as a bonus I have a copy of ‘The Endurance’ to give away. Just email julian@julianstockwin.com with your postal details and ‘Giveaway’ in the subject line. Deadline for entry: January 23.

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Far Distant Ships by Quinton Barry

2018 bookpickThroughout the long drawn out war at sea during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, it was a cardinal principle of British naval strategy to blockade the port of Brest, the largest and most important of the French naval bases that threatened the security of the British Isles. The naval historian A.T. Mahan summed up this contribution of the Royal Navy to the ultimate defeat of Napoleon when he wrote so accurately and so memorably: ‘Those far distant, storm-beaten ships, upon which the Grand Army never looked, stood between it and the domination of the world.’ Well-written and researched, with maps and a useful bibliography, this book highlights just how contributory this blockade was to the mastery of the seas by the Royal Navy for so long, blending characters and grand strategies effortlessly into a very readable skein of history that ran continuously the entire length of the French wars.

 

Understanding a Nautical Chart by Paul Boissier

2018 bookpick2This updated second edition explains how charts are compiled and guides the reader through the elements that make up these vital navigational tools. In addition to a wealth of practical advice, there is a key to all the recently updated chart symbols and abbreviations from Symbols and Abbreviations Used on Admiralty Charts. My time in the Navy was spent almost entirely with paper charts so I am quite familiar with the subject matter of this book, but it is certainly a resource I wish I’d had when I first tried to understand and use nautical charts! I now use myself ECDIS (electronic charts) as research aids in writing my Kydd series and duly find these being given treatment as well in this book. The author had a most distinguished career in the Royal Navy and is now Chief Executive of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. He writes delightfully; his asides won from a long professional acquaintance with the sea are always apposite and often amusing, sharing with me for instance an appreciation of the hard-won good sense and often romance to be found in the august pages of the Admiralty Pilots. This, and his book following ‘Learn the Nautical Rules of the Road‘ is highly commended to all those who venture to set forth upon Neptune’s Realm.

 

The Endurance by Caroline Alexander

2018 bookpick1Alexander’s subject, one of history’s greatest epics of survival, is presented along with the astonishing visual record of Frank Hurley, the Australian photographer. Together, text and a copious flood of priceless images re-create the terrible beauty of Antarctica, the awful destruction of the ship, and the crew’s heroic daily struggle to stay alive, a miracle achieved largely through Shackleton’s inspiring leadership. The survival of Hurley’s images is scarcely less miraculous. The original glass plate negatives, from which most of the book’s illustrations are reproduced, were stored in hermetically sealed canisters that survived months on the ice floes, a week in an open boat on the polar seas, and several more months buried in the snow. A thrilling account of one of the last great adventures in the Heroic Age of exploration.


Still looking for bookish inspiration?

You might also like to take a peek at my recent BookPicks this year
And I have a very limited number of Signed First Editions, which I’m happy to inscribe with a personal message
Enjoy!

Heave Ho for the Festive Season!

This year seems to have flown by – with two Kydd titles, Persephone and The Baltic Prize, published Kathy and I certainly have been kept busy. We’ve also managed a location research trip to the Netherlands and Belgium gleaning material for future books. Next year looks set to be just as hectic, also with two Kydd titles in the pipeline. As usual, there will be an offering of Collectors Sets for each book. I’ll be releasing details of these in due course but in the meantime you can register your interest by emailing me at the address below.

Coming next year

The Iberian Flame will be published on June 14 in the UK (a few months later in the US, Canada and Australia)

Here’s a taster of the book:

IberianFlame cover1808. With the Peninsula in turmoil, Napoleon Bonaparte signs a treaty to dismember Portugal and put his brother, Joseph, on the throne of Spain. Meanwhile, Nicholas Renzi, the Lord Farndon, undertakes a deadly mission to stir up partisan unrest to disrupt this Napoleonic alliance with Spain. Thrust into the crucible of the uprising, Captain Sir Thomas Kydd is dismayed to come up against an old foe from his past – now his superior and commander – who is determined to break him. Kydd will soon face the greatest decision of his professional career.

Bonaparte, incensed by the reverses suffered to his honour, gathers together a crushing force and marches at speed into Spain. After several bloody encounters the greatly outnumbered British expedition have no option other than make a fighting retreat to the coast. Only the Navy can save them. But the flame of insurrection has been lit – and the Peninsular War has begun.

The second 2018 book is as yet untitled and will be published in October.

The Baltic Prize

I’ve been touched by your wonderful comments on this book. Here’s just three:

‘One of the best yet, a fabulous read. Next please.’

‘If you enjoy historical fiction books the man to be in awe of at the present is Julian Stockwin. His Thomas Kydd series is outstanding but what’s really amazing is that we are now on book 19 and it shows no sign of stagnating or slowing down its still as fresh and exciting as ever.’

‘A tremendously rousing nautical adventure.’

I always enjoy hearing from readers and will respond as soon as I can, usually within 48 hours. I can be contacted at this email or by snail-mail to Julian Stockwin, c/o Pawlyn & Co, 6 Costly St, Ivybridge, DEVON, PL21 0DB.

(The Baltic Prize is available in the States now as an ebook and will be out in hardback there on January 2.)


My blog on Christmas at Sea

cheers

And a Happy New Year to you all!

Books for Santa’s Sack 2017

I’m a bit of a bah humbug creature when it comes to the commercialisation of Christmas – but there’s one thing that I fervently believe: a book is a present that, if well chosen for the recipient, will give hours of pleasure and be a lasting reminder in itself of someone putting thought, not just money, into a Yuletide gift. So do consider adding some of these fine books – all with a maritime connection – to your gift-buying list. Hopefully, there’s something for everyone in this somewhat eclectic selection.

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Churchill and Fisher by Barry Gough

Dec1 churchillAt 600 pages this book is by far the lengthiest of my Christmas picks but will reward the reader’s investment in time with a dramatic narrative of two titans of the Admiralty locked in perilous destiny at the start of World War I. The author is a prize-winning historian and biographer, well fitted to undertake such a monumental saga, a story for the ages. For those wishing to delve deeper extensive references and an 18-page bibliography are provided.

Kings of the Sea by J D Davies

dec2kingsHaving enjoyed the author’s ‘Pepy’s Navy: The Ships, Men and Organisation’ I looked forward with anticipation to this new volume. The book is a fascinating journey into the world of the Stuart navy showing how the Kings of the Sea were absolutely central to the development of its ships, their deployment and the officer corps. This is the real beginning of what would become the greatest navy in the world.

Les bateaux de Ma Bibliothèque by Jean-Benoît Héron

dec 3 bateauxPublished in French, this captivating little tome, ‘The boats of my library – From Noah’s Ark to Nautilus: the Most Famous Ships of Literature’ celebrates vessels created by authors such as Jules Verne, Patrick O’brian, Joseph Conrad – and includes, to my immense pleasure, HMS Duke William. Héron’s illustrations are lovingly and meticulously created, making the book a delight to dip into on a cold wintry night by the fire – even if your French is a bit rusty! A truly lovely production.

The Trafalgar Chronicle by Peter Hore

Dec4 chronicleThe Trafalgar Chronicle, the yearbook of The 1805 Club, has established itself as a prime source of information for new research about the Georgian navy. Successive editors have widened the scope to include all sailing navies of the period. Each volume is themed, and this edition looks at the Royal Marines and the U.S. Marine Corps. Sixteen contributions from recognised authorities around the world make this a compelling read.

History of the Port of London by Peter Stone

dec5portThe River Thames has been integral to the prosperity of London since Roman times. Explorers sailed away from there on voyages of discovery to distant lands, colonies were established and a great empire grew. Funding their ships and cargoes helped make the City of London into the world’s leading financial centre. And in modern times the area was transformed into Docklands, a new heart of finance. A close-in view of the most famous seaport worldwide, the book will appeal to Londoners and also those outside the capital interested in Britain’s rich maritime heritage.

Last Voyage to Wewak by Simon J Hall

dec6wewakThe third in Simon Hall’s maritime trilogy, the book is an important historical record of life at sea during the last quarter of the 20th century, a way of life now vanished. The final crumbling of the British register caused officers like Hall to find themselves in a strange new world, sailing under flags of convenience with all the old certainties of life at sea having vanished. A sea tale that is both entertaining and poignant.


Still looking for bookish inspiration?

You might also like to take a peek at my other BookPicks this year this year

And if you’re looking for a Signed First Edition Kydd I still have a few assorted titles available (Kydd Club members are entitled to a 10% discount on all purchases; the discount will be refunded separately after purchase.) I’m happy to add a personal Christmas message. To ensure delivery in time for Christmas the deadline for orders is November 27. Don’t delay to avoid disappointment!

Agamemnon: the Darch Model

 

Devon-based Malcolm Darch has just completed a magnificent 1:64 scale model of HMS Agamemnon. His 57th commission, she was built for a private collector in the UK and just before she was shipped to her new home Kathy and I were honoured to be invited to a private viewing. I have had the privilege of seeing many fine ship models over the years but I have to say this one of Agamemnon is up there at the top, quite exquisite in appearance and the attention to the tiniest detail truly incredible. She’s a work of art in every sense, a unique homage to the beauty of the fighting ship under sail.

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From shipwright to model maker

Darchblog2 whole ship
Malcolm trained as a shipwright (about the same time as myself) on the world-famous Hamble river in the 1960s. After ten years in the trade he started building showcase models in Salcombe, Devon, where he still works in a sun-lit studio on the waterfront. He specialises in 19th and early 20th century ship models. Malcolm’s previous works include the steel barques Moshulu and Pamir, Tern III, Claud Worth’s famous cruising yacht and the frigate Minerva of 1780. Most of Malcolm’s models are in private hands but several years ago he was commissioned to build 1.24th scale models of the local RNLI’s entire fleet (from 1869 to the present day) and these are on display at the Salcombe Lifeboat House Museum.

Nelson’s favourite

HMS Agamemnon was a 64-gun third-rate ship-of-the-line of the Royal Navy. She saw service in the American Revolutionary, French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars and fought in many of the major naval battles of those conflicts. She is remembered as being Nelson’s favourite ship and was named after the mythical ancient Greek king Agamemnon, the first ship of the Royal Navy to bear the name. To her crew she was known affectionately as ‘Eggs and Bacon’.

Nelson served as Agamemnon‘s captain from January 1793 for 3 years and 3 months, during which time she saw considerable service in the Mediterranean. After Nelson’s departure, she was involved in the 1797 mutinies at Spithead and the Nore, and in 1801 was present at the first Battle of Copenhagen, but ran aground before being able to enter the action.

She fought at the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805, as part of Nelson’s weather column, where she forced the surrender of the Spanish four-decker Santssima Trinidad. Agamemnon‘s later career was served in South American waters off Brazil.

Sadly she was wrecked in June 1809 on an uncharted shoal in the mouth of the River Plate, whilst seeking shelter with the rest of her squadron from a storm. Recently, the wreck of Agamemnon has been located, and several artefacts have been recovered, including one of her 24lb cannon.

Research, research, research

Darchblog3 sternMalcolm’s research for this project included assistance from the National Maritime Museum staff; Christine Hyack, a researcher at the National Archive; The National Maritime Museum; and Chatham Staff with their collection of ship models.

He also consulted the Archivist with the Montagu Estate at Bucklers hard, Agamemnon‘s place of build in 1781, though, the model is shown during the period of Nelson’s command 1793 to 1796. The Admiralty order to cease frieze painting came through in 1795, and so Agamemnon would have lost her decoration upon the vessel returning to England when she had to undergo a refit in 1796. The Admiralty order to rearm ships of the line with carronades on the poop deck was being considered in 1796. It was the client’s wish to include them, his being a student of Nelson’s career led him to feel that if Nelson could have managed to get hold of some, he was sure he would have, regardless of the ongoing discussions at the Admiralty.

The research (which took 8 months, before any timber was cut) included compiling a set of drafts for Agamemnon using copies of the original drafts of over half a dozen similar men-of-war. (No original drafts for Agamemnon have surfaced yet)

Peeking through the windows

One of the fascinating features of the model is the detail that can be viewed by peeking through the windows of the ship. The main gun deck, fully fitted out with rigged 24lb cannon, pumps, capstans ladders etc., are visible through the stern chase ports. The upper gun deck and quarter deck, likewise fully fitted out, are visible through the stern windows.

The rigging was spun by William Mowll of Kent on his model ropewalk to the required specifications of dimensions colour and lay. The model is made entirely of boxwood including all the figure carving and intricate mouldings.

An ornate painted frieze runs the length of the vessel incorporating the story of Agamemnon and the Trojan wars brought about by his sister-in-law Helen being kidnapped by Paris and taken to Troy. The neo classical frieze (which gives the impression that the illustrations are in relief with the use of light & shaded colours) on the beak bulkhead contains images of the head of the wooden horse, also Achilles and Hector plus the usual rendering of weapons and flags. The frieze painting took 260 hours and wore out three 00000 sable brushes!

The figure carving. all in boxwood. incorporates Agamemnon as the figurehead, with the conception of Helen in the starboard trailboard at his feet (Leda & the Swan). The port trailboard shows his wife upon his return home after many years away fighting the war, about to kill him in the pool with a spear. She had taken a lover during his absence who persuaded her to do this terrible deed.

The stern carving was researched from a painting by Nicholas Pocock of the stern of the ship painted at Chatham in 1784 from life, whilst undergoing repairs for damage sustained at the Battle of the Saints two years earlier in the West Indies. The painting, an oil, was commissioned by Admiral Hood. It depicts Paris on the port quarter and Helen on the starboard quarter in all her beauty & finery. Three naked Trojan women hold aloft two silhouettes, one of George III and the other of his wife Charlotte. On the stern below are the usual female figures completing the stern figure decoration.

Many challenges

Darch and JS with AgamemnonThe ship’s boats, the largest of which at this period was the 32 foot pinnace, is shown mounted on the model. The other four boats are mounted at each corner of the display plinth. The boats shown off the ship are the launch, a smaller pinnace and two cutters, a jollyboat had not been issued at this date. Nelson took Agamemnon from Portsmouth to the Mediterranean at the outbreak of war in 1793 and she did not return to England for 3 years, so in some respects she was a bit of a time capsule for 1793 with regard to her appearance, although she picked up her extra black banding above the original band, initially a narrow band then added to subsequently.

For Malcolm this model presented many challenges, especially as he built in an unorthodox manner so that internal detail could be shown on a rigged model. He told me that it was a bit like a Chinese puzzle to assemble, not being finally put together until shortly before rigging, including rigging the steering cables from tiller to wheels.

Hardest of the challenges was steaming the boxwood planking around the hard turns under the stern, just as the men of the day at Buckler’s Hard would have struggled, but being a fully qualified timber shipwright helped in the task. He also found assembling the complicated grating under the bowsprit very tricky & frustrating.

Eight months of initial research and 53 months of build time later the magnificent Darch Agamemnon model was completed. Having finished Agamemnon, his most difficult and the largest commission to date, Malcolm says he intends to concentrate on smaller projects in the future. His next commission is a trading smack crossing a square yard of 1811 vintage, built at his home port of Salcombe, and involved in supplying the Peninsular Campaign. I look forward to seeing her, too…

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