The 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. She was later renamed Sovereign, and then Royal Sovereign. The ship was launched on 13 October 1637 and served from 1638 until 1697, when a fire burned 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 wanted a giant Great Ship to be built. The decision provoked much opposition from the Brethren of Trinity House. But the King overcame the objections with the help of John Pennington and from May 1635 work commenced under the guidance of Peter Pett (later a Commissioner of the Navy), and his father Phineas, the king's master shipwright, and was launched at Woolwich Dockyard on 13 October 1637.

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 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 £977,183 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.

A truly magnificent model


Sovereign of the Seas - Large

  • Size: L:126cm - H:100cm