The Ship's Motto and Badge

Motto:      SIC PARVIS MAGNA - "Thus from small things to great things" - is inscribed on the original Drake's Drum in Buckland Abbey.

The Badge:      is described as. "A plate charged with a Wyvern passant red, armed and tongued blue".

It should be remembered that a ship's badge is only intended to be an emblem associated with the person or place or activity after which the ship is named.

Although Drake liked to use the Wyvern in his arms, no dragon or wyvern appears in the original grant of arms of 1581 and there is still controversy concerning his right to use the beast.  However, the fact that it was used by Drake is sufficient for a ship's badge, especially as it is so closely associated with his name, evolving as this does from the Greek, Latin and Anglo-Saxon words for dragon.

Drake's Sword

The sword originally belonged to Sir Francis Drake.  However, there is no evidence to support the popular belief that the sword was given to Drake by Queen Elizabeth I, despite the fact that the Royal Crown appears on the blade.  Experts, both sword makers and historians, agree that the shape of the sword is typical of the 16th Century and that it was undoubtedly a fighting weapon. 

The engravings on the blade are, on one side, a Royal Crown, a Tudor Rose surmounting the astrolabe (symbolising the circumnavigation of the world), which is held by the Divine Hand of Providence, and there is also a visored helmet depicting the rank of knighthood, yet another feature of Drake's Coat of Arms.     On the reverse side the Tudor Rose is replaced by a shield with fleur-de-lis and lions in the quarterings.  On the other side to the Crown is the Royal Cypher "E.R":  The engraving which was probably filled with gold, of which traces remain, is thought from its style to have been added in the 17th Century.  The handle of the sword is formed of wire wound tightly round spiralled wood and formed into Turks heads at each end. The guards still retain the cruciform shape of the early Crusader's sword, but also have additional pieces to protect the back of the hand and knuckles.  The guards and pommel are decorated with silver in the form of oak leaves and acorns, using the earliest form of silver plating in which the parent iron had to be removed to allow the silver to be let in.

The weight of the sword is 2 3/4 lbs which is double the weight of its 20th Century counterpart.  The sword has been in the Williams family since the 1890s and Lieutenant Godfrey Williams, who served in the RNVR in the First World War, presented the sword to the Royal Naval Barracks at Portsmouth on permanent loan. It was transferred to HMS DRAKE in July 1934, by the present owner, Major Idris Williams who has given permission for it to stay here.

The Coconut Cup

This Coconut is traditionally said to have been brought home by Sir Francis Drake.  The hallmarks show that the silver mounting was added by a London Silversmith in 1611 and the hinged straps are typical of English silversmiths' work of this period.

The shell is engraved with three shields of Arms, the Royal Arms as borne from 1485-1603, those of Sir Francis Drake himself, and the Arms of the Courtenay family. The Courtenay arms are probably explained by the fact that Lady Drake married Sir William Courtenay, a widower with a large family, the year following the death at Porto Bello of Sir Francis in 1596.

The Courtenays have been the leading family in Devon for hundreds of years. The present Earl of Devon, Charles Christopher Courtenay, is the seventeenth since the title was recreated in 1553, although Courtenays were also Earls of Devon prior to the lapse of the title. Another similar Coconut Cup mounted in gold is said to have been given to Drake by Queen Elizabeth shortly after his voyage of circumnavigation. The cup was presented to the Mess by Mrs Beatrice E Cook in February 1940 as an expression of her admiration and gratitude to the brave men of the Royal Navy.

Silver Model of GOLDEN HIND

This fine example of the silversmith's art was made in 1936 by the Goldsmiths and Silversmiths Cox, now Garrard and Cox Ltd, Crown Jewellers. The model is to scale and building information was obtained from the only known existing records, in the library of one of the Cambridge Colleges. It was in January 1945 that the model was first seen in the firm's Regent Street showroom by Commodore Cunliffe. Negotiations were then made to either buy it or have it on loan to the Wardroom Mess but the directors explained that the model was an exhibition piece of silver and was one of the few remaining examples of the finer craft of the silversmith available to show to the public, no fine silverware having then been made for more than four years, as the skilled craftsmen had been engaged in essential work for the war effort.

Eventually in 1951 the firm relented and allowed the Mess to purchase the work and a dinner was held on 22nd February of that year to celebrate the new acquisition.

For some years the model was the emblem of the local TV station - Westward Television - but they now have a similar, although less intricate, model of their own.

Silver Model of Drake's Statue (see photograph on the front cover)

This model was made locally by Page, Keen and Page, for the Mess in 1933 and was first exhibited and used as a centrepiece for the table at the inaugural Armada Dinner on 31st July of that year.

The model is of the statue at Tavistock, Drake's birthplace, ordered by the 9th Duke of Bedford in 1883.  The statue is the work of the sculptor Edgar Boehm.  The statue on Plymouth Hoe is a copy of the Tavistock work.

The Drake Snuff Box

This old pressed horn snuff box, purchased by the Wardroom in 1955, is similar to the one at Buckland Abbey.

There is no evidence that it ever belonged to Sir Francis Drake. However, the crest is undoubtedly,contemporary and the box makes an appropriate addition to our collection of Drake relics.

Drake's Drum

The story of how the original Drake's Drum was used to drum the sailors into action in the days of the Spanish Armada inspired the militant young Commander of the Drake Battalion of the Naval Division, Cdr Walter Sterndale Bennet DSO and Bar RNVR, to have a replica made to drum his sailors into action in the battlefields of France. The drum was made to Cdr Sterndale Bennet's order by Henry Potter and Co.  in London in 1917 and from then on was used to drum the Battalion into action. It was presented to HMS DRAKE by his family in 1963.

Cdr Sterndale Bennet assumed command of the Drake battalion in November 1916 at Beaucourt whilst only a Lieutenant and little more than 23 years of age, casualties having occurred early on in the action. He was soon to be promoted to Lieutenant Commander and awarded the DSO for his ability and courage, and shortly afterwards was established in command of the battalion. He was the youngest British officer ever to hold such a position.

In April 1917 at Gavrelle, an official report relates that "on discovering the wire uncut, except in a few places, he went forward himself and led his battalion through the partially cut gaps. He finally gained his objective and held on against very strong resistance. The success of the operation was almost entirely due to his personal example."  For this he was awarded a bar to his DSO. His promotion to Commander quickly followed.

He was wounded on 4th November and died of his wounds on 7th November 1917.

Sir Francis Drake's Plate of Brass

During Drake's voyage of circumnavigation 1577-80 it was necessary to completely refit and repair the GOLDEN HIND before starting the long journey home.  The exact site of this evolution was for long a subject of controversy. However, Francis Fletcher, Drake's Chaplain, besides discussing the place, recorded that a small plate of brass was "fast nailed to a great and prime post whereon is engraven Her Grace's name, the day and year of our arrival there, and of the free giving up of the province and kingdom, both by the King and People, into Her Majesty's hands, together with Her Highness' picture and arms in a piece of sixpence, current English monie, shewing itself by a hole of a purpose through the plate; underneath it was likewise engraven the name of our General."

From other writings of Fletcher it was apparent that the people he spoke of were Coast Mivok Indians who inhabited the Point Reyes area of California till as recently as 1925. In 1936 what is believed to be the original plate of brass was found, thrown away, found again, this time by someone who appreciated its value, and after cleaning in the University of Berkeley, California, the inscription recorded by Fletcher was revealed.

A facsimile of this remarkable find was presented to HMS DRAKE in January 1954 by the Drake Navigators Guild of Point Reyes, California. A similar plate presented to Queen Elizabeth II is now in Buckland Abbey, the home that Drake bought from Sir Richard Grenville in 1581.

Elizabeth Silver Coins

These coins are inserted into the table on Dining-in Nights.

The shilling was presented by Lord Chief Justice Goddard in March 1936. Although there is no date on this hammered coin, the mint mark above the Queen's head indicates that it was made between the years 1592 and 1595.

The sixpence was presented by Commodore Cunliffe in January 1946.  It was minted in 1562 by a French engraver Eloye Mestuelle, who manufactured coins at The Royal Nint in the years 1561-1571 by means of a horse-drawn mill. These coins became known as milled money.

Nelson's Plate

The plate from Lord Nelson's dinner service was presented by the Navy League to HMS KING GEORGE V in appreciation of the great services rendered by that ship during the First World War.

She was the first battleship to bear the name and was laid down in 1911.  The second KING GEORGE V was laid down in 1937, served during the Second World War and was scrapped in 1958.

The Emperor's Punch Bowl

This magnificent Punch Bowl and ladle with a cheque for 500 was presented by Czar Nicholas II to the Wardroom of HMS TALBOT in recognition of the assistance rendered to the crews of the VARIAG and the KORIETZ after the battle of Tchemulpo in February 1904.

Captain Rudneff of the VARIAG was the Senior Russian Naval Officer in Tchemulpo in South West Korea.      On 8th February 1904, realising that relations between his country and Japan were strained, he attempted to leave in company with the KOREITZ, an old 8-inch gunboat, to join up with the main body of the Russian Fleet four hundred miles away in Port Arthur.

However, after actions on the 8th and 9th February with a division of Japanese cruisers and two divisions of torpedo boats, under Rear Admiral Uriar, just outside Tchemulpo, in which there were no Japanese but 222 Russian casualties, Captain Rudneff decided that the proper course of action was to scuttle his ships. The Japanese claimed the survivors as prisoners of war; but since they were by this time already accommodated in foreign warships, mostly aboard HMS TALBOT (Captain Bayly), which happened to be in Tchemulpo, it was eventually decided that the rescued officers and men should be allowed to return to Russia.  This was the first action of the Russo-Japanese War. The crews arrived in St Petersberg on 29th April, 1904, and were the Winter Palace by Czar Nicholas II.

The VARIAG was refloated in 1905 and subsequently reconstructed and added to the Japanese Navy.

HMS TALBOT was a 5600 ton cruiser built: in Devonport and completed in 1896 at a cost of 280,000.  She was rather shorter than a modern Leander but mounted eleven 6-inch guns, nine 12-pounders and some smaller guns and three torpedo tubes. She was commissioned on 15th September, 1896.

Paul Storre Cup

This elaborate silver gilt cup was made in 1812 by Paul Storre, the London silversmith. It was a birthday gift in 1825 from the Duchess of Cambridge to Prince Adolphus Frederick, first Duke of Cambridge and Earl of Tipperary, the 7th son of George III.  Its subsequent history is not known. However, it was presented by Lord Tredegar, Lord Lieutenant of Monmouthshire, to HMS MONMOUTH in December 1904.  The MONMOUTH was launched on 13th November, 1901 and was the name ship of a class of ten First Class Armoured Cruisers of 9800 tons whose main armament consisted of 14 six inch guns.

Silver Model of Fire Engine

This was presented to the Wardroom Mess HMS ROYAL ADELAIDE by Lieutenant E B Hall, in 1887, and was made by John Newton Mappin, silversmith of London.

ROYAL ADELAIDE was a 1st rate 104 Gunship built at Devonport in 1828, which became flagship of the Commander-in-Chief Devonport in 1872. The first VIVID started life as a paddle driven Dover mail packet and commissioned as the tender to HMS ROYAL ADELAIDE. In 1890 she became the flagship of the Commander-in-Chief Devonport in succession to the ROYAL ADELAIDE. The Wardroom of HMS DRAKE remains today the flagship mess of the Flag Officer Plymouth.

Antique Naval Sword

This early 19th Century German Naval Sword was purchased by the Wardroom in September 1960.


This is so called on account of the VIVID cap tally worn by the sailor engraved on it. The goblet, purchased from the daughter of Thomas William Stacey, has a well authenticated history and its manufacture is dated as 1889 by the threepenny bit enclosed in the swell of the stem. Thomas Stacey joined the Navy in 1889, the first year of the Royal Naval Barracks, and the goblet was given to him in 1899 when he was a 'one badge stoker', by a friend who was the son of the maker of the goblet. It was given to him the year he married and it is possible that the goblet was a wedding present.  Unfortunately it has not been possible to discover the name of the glass blower or where he was employed; but it is considered to be Stowbridge glass.


The ALMIRANTE LATORRE was a 28,000 ton Chilean battleship laid down in 1911 at Armstrong's yard on the Tyne. She was capable of twenty three knots and was armed with 10 fourteen-inch and 16 six-inch guns. On her completion in 1915, she was taken over by the Royal Navy and served during the First World War as HMS CANADA, spending most of the war based at Scapa Flow.  She was one of Jellicoe's twenty-four Dreadnoughts at Jutland commanded by Captain Nicholson and serving in Rear Admiral Duff's Division.

Eventually she was resold to the Chilean Navy in 1920.  This fine cup and bowl were presented to the Wardroom following a visit to Devonport in 1931, during which some work was done on the ship in the Dockyard, and her officers were accommodated in the Barracks. The hallmarks are Birmingham 1928 and 1929 respectively.

Two Cannons on Carved carriages

These attractive brass cannons were loaned to the Wardroom by a Commander Todd and on his death were bequeathed to his nephew, Mr Michael John Warren Todd, who has agreed that they should remain on loan to HMS DRAKE.

Neapolitan Table

This giltwood, marble-topped console table dates from around 1750. It is made after the style of William Kent.

The table used to be in Admiralty House, Trincomalee till that station closed down: it was then transferred to Admiralty House, Bahrein and came to DRAKE with the withdrawal from the Middle East in 1971.


The model was given to DRAKE by Admiral Young Jamieson but its early history is not known.

The scale is 1/4" to 1 ft representing 118 ft on the orlop deck (below the guns) and 33 ft 8 inch beam.

GUADALUPE was a 6th rate 28-gun frigate built at Plymouth in 1763 and sunk at Yorktown in 1781.

On 30th July, 1781, the GUADALUPE (Captain Hugh Robinson) and the LOYALIST of 16-guns were chased off Cape Henry by de Grasse's fleet. The LOYALIST was captured but the GUADALUPE escaped into York river. However, on 10th October, in company with the CHANON, FOWEY and VULCAN, she was set on fire by hot shot from American batteries before Yorktown. On one side was Washington's Army and on the other de Grasse's fleet, so this time there could be no escape. However, they were at least saved from the indignity of surrendering the ships to the Americans and the French.

Scrolls of Freedom





The Honorary Freedom of the City of Plymouth was conferred on the Plymouth Command of the Royal Navy at a ceremony on Plymouth Hoe on Thursday, 26th September, 1963, the anniversary of Drake's arrival at Plymouth after his voyage of circumnavigation.

The Honorary Freedom of the Borough of Bootle was conferred on the Royal Navy at a ceremony in Bootle on Saturday, 5th May, 1973.   Bootle was the headquarters of the Flag Officer Western Approaches during the Second World War and many of the destroyers and frigates taking part

in the Battle of the Atlantic were based there. 1973 was the last year of Bootle's existence, as the borough disappeared in the reorganisation of local government.

The Scrolls of Freedom, together with the special caskets in which they were presented, are displayed in the Wardroom.


















The Worcester Lighter

This handsome silver grenade topped with a silver Naval Crown was presented to the Barracks on 1st June, 1930, by the 2nd Battalion the Worcestershire Regiment to mark the occasion of the presentation of the new colours to the Regiment by HRH the Duke of Gloucester KG GCVO, on the Barracks parade ground. The Regiment was stationed in Plymouth at the time and has a very close association with the Royal Navy because on 1st June, 1794, the soldiers of the 2nd Battalion were in passage on board the ships of the English Fleet when the battle took place. The action was at close quarters and the Regiment acquitted itself with great honour.



The Wardroom possesses some notable works of art, among which are to be found paintings by T Luny, Professor Arthur Pan and Francis Hodge.

The 2 paintings by T Luny are to be found in the Smoking Room, one depicting a view of Teignmouth and the other showing HMS RENOWN of 74 guns being towed out of harbour by HM Steam Vessel CARRON. HMS RENOWN was built in 1835.  CARRON, a wooden paddle vessel, was built in 1827. In the Entrance Hall hangs a very fine portrait of the late Sir Winston Churchill commissioned by the Wardroom from Professor Arthur Pan in 1945.  The portrait of Sir Francis Drake by Francis Hodge is hung opposite the main staircase.  The authenticity of this painting derives from Hodge's research into original costume and accoutrements and his copying of ship models in the London Museum.  Facial detail is based on contemporary drawings and paintings.

A copy of the St Helier Lander portrait of His Majesty King George V in his uniform as Admiral of the Fleet, executed to the order of the Mess by Mr Edmund Dyer at a total cost of 150, was hung on the North Wall of the hall in December 1936, and 2 silken guidons were the work of Mrs H Pipon, wife of the Commodore at the time.

On the main staircase, next to the portrait of HM King George V, hangs a fine painting by Mr Clarkson Stanfield RA.  It depicts ships of the line leaving Portsmouth Harbour.  It was presented to the Mess by Vice Admiral R E Hammick RN in 1922.

In the Ante Room are portraits of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. The portrait of the Queen, who is wearing evening dress, was painted by Mary Eastman.

The Billiards Room houses a fine collection of Spy cartoons from Thackeray's 'Vanity Fair'.

The Armada Prints

These 7 fine colour prints from John Pines' engravings of the tapestry hangings in the old House of Lords possess a special historical interest. The engravings were copied in 1739 from a set of tapestries made for the Lord Admiral, Lord Howard of Effingham, by Francis Speiving.  Speiving used Counelis de Vroom's designs made from Howard's own sketches.  The tapestries were bought by James I and given to the House of Lords, where they perished in the fire of 1834.

The complete set consists of 10 prints and the colour sets are extremely rare.     The Wardroom's collection is missing the following 3 prints:

V         22 July Capture of the San Salvador.

IX        28 July The Armada off Calais dislodged by 5 ships.

X         29 July The Lorenzo aground off Calais with the Armada in flight to the northward.

The 7 prints were purchased by the Mess from the Parker Gallery, London in January 1964.

Mural Carvings

The mural carvings in the Wardroom Mess were completed in May 1932. These carvings, which represent notable and historic events in the annals of the Royal Navy, with particular reference to West Country ships, were executed by Colonel Harold Wylie at a total cost of 1,575.

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