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HMS Invincible Case Cleaning

16 January 2020

HMS Invincible case cleaning

While the Dockyard is closed to visitors over the winter, work continues behind the scenes. The usually busy galleries are quiet, giving the Collections Team an opportunity to open show cases and work on cleaning displays without disrupting visitor enjoyment. Claire and Helen from the Collections team have spent the last week working in our Command of the Oceans Galleries, condition checking objects and cleaning cases.

Helen from the Collections team case cleaning
Helen checking objects ready to move them out of the cases
Claire carefully hoovering around the powder magazine in its display case
Claire carefully hoovering around the powder magazine in its display case

Command of the Oceans, which opened in 2016, tells the story of how wooden warships were built in the Age of Sail. One of the key displays in the gallery are the artefacts recovered from the wreck HMS Invincible. Originally L’invincible, a 74-gun ship of the French Navy built in 1744, she was captured by the British and renamed Invincible in 1747. In 1758 she ran aground on the Solent and sank. The Wreck was discovered in the late 1970s and artefacts recovered in the early 1980s became part of the collections at The Historic Dockyard Chatham.

There are more than 100 items from Invincible on display in the gallery, including rigging, tools, and ordnance, as well as more personal items such as shoes, combs and a chamber pot. Over the past week each of these objects has been removed from its case, carefully inspected for signs of damage or deterioration and cleaned. The cases have been thoroughly cleaned inside and out before the objects have been reinstated ready for the new season.

Eighteenth Century chamber pot and bottles recovered from the wreck of HMS Invincible temporarily packed while their display case is cleaned
Eighteenth Century chamber pot and bottles recovered from the wreck of HMS Invincible temporarily packed while their display case is cleaned

Artefacts from HMS Invincible are on permanent display in the Command of the Oceans Galleries. Newly discovered objects from the most recent excavation of the wreck form part of an immersive new temporary exhibition titled ‘Diving Deep: HMS Invincible 1744’

In July Chatham Historic Dockyard will be the first venue for this show developed in partnership with the Museum of the Royal Navy. Find out more about it here

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