Figurehead from HMS Victory that was chopped up by MISTAKE is restored

SAWED Nelson! 200-year-old figurehead from HMS Victory that was chopped up with a chainsaw by MISTAKE… is painstakingly restored to former glory

  • 10-foot tall piece of art is from warship commanded by naval hero Admiral Nelson during Battle of Trafalgar
  • An error by contractors led to the artwork being destroyed in 2009 as workers thought it was modern-day 
  • Now on display in The National Museum of Royal Navy’s newest gallery ‘HMS Victory: The Nation’s Flagship’

A 200-year-old Royal Navy figurehead from Lord Nelson’s famous warship HMS Victory which was chopped up with a chainsaw by mistake has been painstakingly restored to its former glory.   

The 10ft-tall wooden piece of art is from HMS Victory, the warship commanded by naval hero Admiral Nelson during the Battle of Trafalgar.

Originally thought to have been destroyed in the mid-to-late 20th century, the 200-year-old artefact was ‘rediscovered’ following a year of scientific and historical investigation.

Painstaking study of the artefact and naval historical records revealed it was made in 1815 to replace Victory’s original figurehead after that was damaged during the Battle of Trafalgar.


A 200-year-old Royal Navy figurehead from Lord Nelson’s famous warship HMS Victory which was chopped up with a chainsaw by mistake has been painstakingly restored to its former glory

Originally thought to have been destroyed in the mid-to-late 20th century, the 200-year-old artefact was ‘rediscovered’ following a year of scientific and historical investigation 

But an error by contractors led to the artwork being destroyed in 2009 as workers mistakenly thought it was merely a modern-day work.

The sculpture was sliced into six pieces by a chainsaw and locked into storage in 2012.

In 2019, heritage chiefs from the National Museum of the Royal Navy – which now tends to Victory – launched an investigation into the wrecked figurehead in its vaults.

They discovered the carving had in fact been created to replace the figurehead damaged in the fight against the Spanish and French armada in 1805.

Pictured: HMS Victory at Portsmouth New Hampshire in dock 

Pictured: An engraved illustration of Lord Nelson from 1885

It is now on display in The National Museum of the Royal Navy’s newest gallery ‘HMS Victory: The Nation’s Flagship’, which has just opened at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

The sculpture, now on display at the Victory Gallery, depicts two angels supporting the UK royal coat of arms, surmounted by a crown.

Andrew Baines, the national museum’s deputy director, revealed his team had been blown away when they discovered the figurehead’s true history.

He said: ‘When we discovered that it was 206 years old, we were absolutely delighted.’

Naval archives show the figurehead was commissioned in summer 1815 and constructed on the Isle of Wight at a cost of £65 – roughly £65,000 today.

HMS Victory, based at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, is the oldest commissioned warship in the world.

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