Princes Channel Wreck

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The Princes Channel wreck, also known as the Gresham Ship is an Elizabethan shipwreck (c. 1574) that was discovered in the Princes Channel in the Thames Estuary. It was discovered by the Port of London Authority in 2004 during a dredging operation to remove obstructions that posed hazards and impeded navigation during low tides (Auer, J. and Firth, A.).

Archaeological remains[edit]

20% of the wreck was recovered and lifted from the Thames Esturary and taken to Horsea Island, an estuarine lake near Portsmouth so it could be preserved. A five-year research project ("The Gresham Ship Project"), was carried out from 2007-2012 by researchers from University College London and the University of Southern Denmark. The project focused on five large sections of the hull that had been recovered, as well as associated artefacts.[1] The hull timbers are now a major exhibit at the UK National Dive Centre at Stoney Cove.

The design and construction of the Princes Channel Wreck is of Archaeological significance, as it appears to have been rebuilt using the method of furring, which allowed the vessel to gain about 1 foot in width on each side. The rebuilding may have been necessary if the ship was crank-sided.


Furring as defined by Sir Henry Mainwaringʼs Seamanʼs Dictionary is as follows:

“There are two kinds of furring: the one is after a ship is built, to lay on another plank upon the side of her, which is called plank upon plank. The other, which is more eminent and more properly furring, is to rip of the first planks and to put other timbers upon the first, and so to put on the planks upon these timbers. The occasion of it is to make a ship bear a better sail, for when a ship is too narrow and her bearing either not laid out enough or too low, then they must maker her broader and lay her bearing higher. They commonly fur some two or three strakes under water and as much above, according as the ship requires, more or less. I think in all the world there are not so many ships furred as are in England, and it is a pity that there is no order taken either for the punishing of those who build such ships or the preventing of it, for it is an infinite loss to the owners and an utter spoiling and disgrace to all ships that are so handled (Manwaring & Perrin 1922, 153).”

There has been debate as to the preliminary naming of the wreck, as it was found in the Princes Channel at the mouth of the Thames estuary. However the more popular name of Gresham Ship was introduced when the guns on board the vessel revealed a grasshopper insignia, which was the motif made by Sir Thomas Gresham, founder of the Royal Exchange.


  1. ^ Milne, Gustav; Dean Sully; Jens Auer (2012). "Researching an Elizabethan Shipwreck: The Gresham Ship Project 2007—2012". Archaeology International. 15: 57–61. doi:10.5334/ai.1503. 
  • Auer, J. and Firth, A. (2007). The Gresham Ship: an interim report on a 16th –century wreck from Princes Channel, Thames Estuary. Post-Medieval Archaeology. Vol 41, 222- 41.
  • Perrin, W. G. (1929-1930). Botelerʼs Dialogues. London: Navy Record Society Vol. LXV. Perrin, W.G. (Ed.) (1918). The Autobiography of Phineas Pett. London: Navy Records Society.
  • Manwaring G. E. & Perrin W. G. (Ed.) (1922). The Life and works of Sir Henry Mainwaring. Volume II: The Seamanʼs Dictionary. London: Navy Records Society, Vol. LVI.
  • Wagstaffe, Cate. 2010. Furring in the light of 16th century ship design. MA thesis, SDU: Esbjerg.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°29′28″N 1°06′43″E / 51.491075°N 1.111873°E / 51.491075; 1.111873