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Collections10th September 2019

Top Ten Collections – Namur

The NAMUR – the ‘ship beneath the floor’

A unique assemblage of ship’s timbers was discovered during building work in 1995.  The Namur, built at Chatham Dockyard 1750-1756, was in active service for 47 years.  One of the Namur’s more unusual connections was that novelist Jane Austin’s brother Rear Admiral Charles John Austen CB served as captain of the Namur between November 1811 and September 1814.

HMS Namur was built as a second-rate ship. The upper deck was razeed (a process of cutting down wooden ships to reduce the number of decks) to create a third-rate ship. This is first tangible evidence of razee in the world!

It is unknown why the timbers have been laid so neatly together and we may never know! Perhaps this was the Captains favourite ship, or it was as simple as just needing the wood for floors. It makes the timbers even more of a rare and unique find! Most ships are found underwater or in damp conditions but this finding was dry so paint and other details are still intact. However two different types of timbers where found – some from a second-rate ship and others from a smaller third-rate ship which made it difficult to piece together.

Looking closely at the timbers you are able to see items such as hammock rails where men would have slept and eyebolts which show the working position of the gun.

182 years later, the Namur timbers were cleaned again by our team ready for display. Visitors can now see for themselves these beautiful timbers and learn more of her story.

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