Height: 93 inches (236cm) Width: 92 ½ inches (235cm) Depth: 25 inches (33cm)
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This pine chimneypiece has a swan-neck pediment supporting three pedestals, with dentil and leaf borders. There is a central limewood oval portrait of Robert Marsham, 2nd Baron Romney carved in relief and suspended by acanthus and tied ribbons. The frieze below is also applied with limewood carving of naval trophies, emblematic of seamanship and learning, flanking a central tablet depicting a reclining Marine Society boy. The supports are composed of large fluted columns with Ionic capitals and edged with egg and dart borders and leaf-carved mouldings. English, 1775.
Provenance: Supplied by Mr. Tousey for the Committee Room of the Marine Society at
No. 54 Bishopsgate Street, London, in April 1775 at a cost of £30.15s 6d
removed to Clark’s Place, Bishopsgate Street, London, in 1891
Published: Woodman, Richard “…..of daring temper 250 years of the Marine Society.” London 2006, pp 24-25.
Bosanquet, Henry T. A., The Marine Society, A Catalogue of the Pictures and other Works of Art, 1905, p. 14.
The Marine Society is the world’s oldest public maritime charity and was the brainchild of Jonas Hanway. In 1756, at the beginning of the Seven Years’ War, he reflected on Britain’s woefully undermanned and ill-equipped navy. His idea was to ensure that young men and boys who wished to ‘learn the duty of seaman…shall be handsomely clothed and provided with bedding, and their charges born down to the ports where His Majesty’s Ships lye with all other proper encouragement.’ During the ensuing hostilities the Society equipped 5,140 men and 4,787 boys for the Navy. In 1793 Admiral Lord Nelson, a governor of the Society, requested 20 lads to join his 64-gun ship Agamemnon at Chatham. By the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, at least 15% of British naval manpower was being supplied, trained and equipped by the Marine Society. By 1774, the Society had outgrown its offices in the Royal Exchange and moved to 54 Bishopsgate Street. Detailed minutes of the weekly Committee meetings describe the furnishing of the Society’s new Committee Room, including ‘a carved chimneypiece’, ‘the cost not to exceed £36’. The final sum paid to a Mr Tousey was £30. 15s. 6d. This was probably the Huguenot carver and gilder John Tousey, or Touzey, of The Golden Head, Bow Street (1763-1781).
Robert Marsham, 2nd Baron Romney was the Society’s president from 1756 to 1793. The Society’s objectives to facilitate and to provide practical and financial support for the education, training and well-being of all professional seafarers continues to this day, and in 2004 it merged with Sea Cadet Corps and remains the UK’s largest not for profit maritime organisation.
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A George III carved pine chimneypiece from The Marine Society by Tousey, 1775