Pleasure, politics and war: The role of Charles II’s yachts

Charles II was the first English king to own and race yachts. Their interiors were decorated to mimic many aspects of the king’s state apartments and they were equipped with cannon – as such they were a symbol of royal authority. However, these yachts were more than a recreational diversion: they were leant to ambassadors and when necessary fought alongside the warships of the Royal Navy. There is no definitive study of Charles II’s yachts but there are a wide variety of sources to facilitate such a study ranging from references in the diaries of Samuel Pepys and the wreck of The Mary which was excavated in the 1990s, to plans, paintings and a wide variety of written records relating to their use, cost, crew and conversion after they passed permanently into the hands of the Royal Navy at the turn of the century. This research project is drawing on archival material from the National Archives, Kew and ship plans at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

To date preliminary archival research has been undertaken by Professor Maria Hayward (History). In addition, two student projects have been undertaken/are taking place with Alexander Reinhold working under the supervision of Dr Graeme Earl (Archaeology) and Adam Gibbard working with Dr Dominic Hudson (Ship Science).


  • Graeme Earl
  • Adam Gibbard
  • Maria Hayward
  • Dominic Hudson
  • Alexander Reinhold