Grace Dieu (ship)

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Site of the wreck of Grace Dieu
The yellow hazard marker is sited on the wreck of Grace Dieu in the River Hamble
Career (England) English Flag
Name: Grace Dieu
Ordered: 1416
Builder: William Soper
Launched: 1418
Commissioned: 1420
In service: 1420-1439[1]
Fate: Struck by lightning and burnt in 1439
General characteristics
Tons burthen: 2,750 tons[1]
Length: 218 ft (66 m)[1]
Beam: 50 ft (15 m)[1]
Complement: 250[1]
  • 3 cannon
  • Archers[1]

Grace Dieu was launched in 1418 as the flagship of Henry V of England and was one of the largest ships of her time. She sailed on only one voyage, and spent most of her life laid up in the River Hamble, where in 1439 she was struck by a bolt of lightning and burnt.


She was built to a three-layered[2] clinker-built design by William Soper, a burgess of Southampton and Clerk of the King's Ships. A dock was specially built for her construction near Town Quay in Southampton[3].


Ordered in 1416 to fight Genoan carracks,[3] Grace Dieu was completed in 1418 and was one of the largest wooden ships of its time, measuring 66.4 metres (218 ft) in length. Estimates of her weight range between 1,400 tons[3] and 2,750 tons.[1] Two other ships, Valentine and Falcon were built to escort her.[3]

1420 voyage

Grace Dieu and her escorts appear to have only set sail once, in 1420, under the command of the Earl of Devon.[3] The expedition suffered a mutiny soon after leaving Southampton and diverted to St. Helens on the Isle of Wight.[3]


Subsequently, Grace Dieu was laid-up in the River Hamble. Already dismasted and stripped of equipment, she was burnt to the waterline after being set ablaze by a bolt of lightning in 1439[3].


The remains of Grace Dieu are still in the River Hamble at Bursledon, near Southampton, Hampshire. Until 1933 the wreck was believed to be that of a Danish galley or a nineteenth-century merchant ship, but in that year a proper survey established both the true identity of the wreck, and the great size of the ship.[1] The site was designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act on 5 February 1974 and was excavated by Channel 4's archaeology programme Time Team in 2004 for their 2005 series.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 "Grace Dieu at the Royal Navy website". Retrieved 2009-03-06. 
  2. Time Team
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Southampton an Illustrated History. Adrian Rance. 1986. ISBN 0-903852-95-0

External links


  • R C Anderson, The Burlesdon Ship, Mariner's Mirror, Vol 20, No.2, 1934.
  • M W Prynne, Henry V's Grace Dieu, Mariner's Mirror, Vol 54, No.2, 1968.
  • N A M Rodger, The Safeguard of the Sea, A Naval History of Britain 660-1649 (London 1997).
  • S Rose, Henry V's Grace Dieu and Mutiny at Sea: Some new evidence, Mariner's Mirror, Vol 63, No.1, 1977.

Coordinates: 50°53′30″N 1°17′19″W / 50.8916646°N 1.2884796°W / 50.8916646; -1.2884796

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