A Trip To Bristol

« The Matthew »  Read its fascinating story here:  https://matthew.co.uk/

dscn3950 dscn3958 dscn3960 dscn3966

« The Great Britain » http://www.ssgreatbritain.org/



Do you dare cross the line?

dscn3995dscn4004 dscn4006

« All around Cape Horn in the month of May ….. is a bloody long way »(Rosabella)

And you can see how far it is on this upside-down map.



Couldn’t resist the opportunity to dress up.

I can highly recommend exploring Bristol’s nautical heritage and learning more about Brunel’s fabulous engineering.

To find out more, check out these sites:




A quick trip to Bristol part 1: The Matthew

The Matthew ….

Is a replica of John Cabot’s ship which sailed to Newfoundland and back in 1497.

More information on this fascinating project can be found here:


Meanwhile, here are some photos I took on a rather grey summer’s day.






« I wish I was a harlot aboard a Man o’ War! »

The shanty « Sam’s gone away », much loved by Chantimor, tells the story of different occupations on board a ship of the line – a « Man of War », which would have had up to 700 people on board doing a large variety of jobs. Along with the obvious posts such as Captain, First Mate and Gunner, Chantimor generally includes the role of Surgeon, Cabin Boy and Harlot.

Well, someone has to do it – so yes – c’est moi – the « harlot elect » of this song. (And I remind crew members that I am ACTING the role!!). And that got me thinking about the reality of women on board ships in the 18th & 19th centuries because there are some purists who think that women should not be in shanty groups – believing that life at sea at that time was male dominated.            

It is true that it is difficult to find any evidence that women actually sang on board the vessels, but there is plenty of evidence to show that they were present.                                                                                 Admiralty Regulations stated that women were not allowed to be taken to sea and that ‘… no women be ever permitted to be on board but such as are really the wives of the men they come to, and the ship not too much pestered even with them’

Despite this, Warrent Officers (specialists such as the gunner, the cooper, the master, the carpenter etc were issued a government warrent)  often took their wives to sea with them, and although it was not  approved of, the Commissioned Officers generally turned a blind eye to the practice. These women never appeared on the muster books as the Royal Navy did not pay or feed them, but there is reference to them in various log books, memoirs,order books and court martial cases.

But some Senior Officers were not so tolerant. When Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood, (a friend of Nelson) discovered that women had been brought on board his flagship, he ordered the women ashore because of ‘… the mischief they never fail to create wherever they are’.

As well as wives, whenever a ship came into port, large numbers of whores were brought in on « bumboats », the little boats which brought provisions to the ships.

whores on board!

The scenes on board ships while they were in port must have been interesting, to say the least, as the crew were allowed quite a large quantity of beer per day.

One sailor wrote that,
‘with the women came drink and what with the drink and the women the ship’s discipline came to a stop. The men and women drank and quarrelled between the guns. The decks were allowed to become dirty. Drunken women were continually coming up to insult the officers, or to lodge some complaint. Sometimes the women ran aloft to wave their petticoats to the flagship’.

There were also nurses on board. Well, I use the term « nurse » loosely because although The Royal Navy of the time had a comprehensive health care system, which included compulsory vaccination against smallpox, free medical treatment for sailors, a sick bay and a surgeon on every ship – as well as an extensive network of hospitals and hospital ships, the nurses who attended the sick and wounded at these establishments had quite a bad reputation, and were continually being sacked for prostitution, drunkenness and helping the sailors desert.

 ‘… those ladies are exceedingly bold and audacious … I had a great deal to do to repulse the temptations I met with from these sirens’.

So there we have it. Women WERE on board in quite large numbers so it is perfectly feasible that they could have sung along with the Shanty Men. For those of you who haven’t seen it before, here’s Chantimor + Sirens in action:

Disclaimer: Although I believe the historical information to be accurate (most of the info here comes from the BBC history site), Chantimor’s blog is just for fun & fancy and should never be considered in any way as a reference. God no!

Kiss the Gunner’s Daughter

First of all – sorry if you are a hard rock fan – have googled « Kiss the Gunner’s Daughter » to find your favourite group, and have ended up here on a sea shanty group’s blog. It isn’t what you were looking for, I know – so here’s the link to their Facebook page.


Now to our usual readers & Chantimor crew:

I was having a mooch round the internet (« surfing » seems slightly too energetic and wet for me) and came across this:

To Kiss the Gunner’s Daughter

« Term used in the Age of Sail Navy: To be bent over the breach of a cannon and caned for an infraction of the law with as much respect and privacy that could be found on the gun deck in a man of war. This was reserved for midshipmen who would one day become officers and were above being flogged in public on the open deck, very much like the school boy who is caned by the schoolmaster in private. Serious trouble that will soon pass. Receiving minor discipline that may be momentarily a pain in the ass. »

Ref: Urban Dictionary

If you would like to read more about it – there’s a bit more detail on the following website.

Warning: this is a site about corporal punishment, and I’m not tooooo sure who it’s written for,  if you know what I mean!


And then, to the tune of « Oh Suzannah, won’t you marry me.. » something for you to sing along to while you are waiting for rehearsals to resume.



Where did that come from? : Grog

Ever wondered where the word « Grog » comes from?

Well, for all of you who have a curious mind, or for those who love languages and the origins of words and expressions, here’s a brilliant book: The Etymologicon by Mark Forsyth (publisher – Icon).

The author takes you on a twisting & tortuous journey through the English language, with lots of funny asides.

Anyway, back to the Grog.

Apparently, a certain Admiral Vernon of the Royal Navy used to wear a thick coat made from a coarse material called grogram (from the French gros graine.) So his men nick-named him « Old Grog ».

Admiral Edward VernonBritish sailors used to have a daily allowance of rum. In 1740, Vernon ordered that the rum be watered down. This eventually became standard fro the whole navy and was called grog.

Of course, if you drank too much, it made you groggy.

Vernon also has other things named after him, but I’ll leave you to find that out for yourselves.

Meanwhile, you can get an idea of the style of the book if you visit:


Have a nice weekend!





armistice14-18 la guerre est finie

Le 11 novembre 1918, à 11 h précises, les cloches sonnent partout en France pour annoncer que les combats ont cessé. Un armistice a été signé, à l’aube, entre l’Allemagne et les Alliés vainqueurs, mais en France comme en Angleterre la nouvelle n’a été annoncée qu’à 11 h du matin.

On 11th November 1918, at 11am precisely, French time, bells started ringing throughout Frace to announce that hostilities had ceased. An armistice had been signed at dawn between Germany and the Allies, but in France as in England, the news was not announced until 11am when the cease-fire came into effect.

signature de l'armistice1918Les généraux allemands et alliés se réunissent dans un wagon-restaurant aménagé provenant du train d’État-Major du maréchal Foch, dans la clairière de Rethondes, en forêt de Compiègne.

German and Allied representatives met in the restaurant carriage of a train belonging to Maréchal Foch, the Allied Supreme Commander, in a clearing near Rethondes in the forest of Compiègne, north of Paris.                                                                                                                                                                                  480px-Waffenstillstand_gr        Maréchal Foch, who drew up the non-negotiable conditions of surrender, is seen here standing, with his aide Général Maxime Weygand on his left.

The United Kingdom was represented by British naval officers: First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Rosslyn Wemyss on Maréchal Foch’s right, Rear-Admiral George Hope and Captain Jack Marriott.                                                       

L’idée d’un moment de silence à l’occasion de la célébration de l’armistice au Commonwealth fut suggérée en premier par le journaliste australien Edward George Honey dans une lettre au journal London Evening News en mai 1919. Il avait proposé au départ un période de 5 minutes de silence qui fut jugée trop longue et une minute trop courte, finalement 2 minutes furent adoptée.

The idea of a moment’s silence on the occasion of commemorating the armistice throughout the Commonwealth was first suggested by Australian journalist Edward George Honey in a letter to the London Evening News in May 1919. He originally suggested 5 minutes of silence, but as this was considered too long, and one minute too short, finally the 2 minutes silence was adopted.

On 7 November 1919, King George V proclaimed « that at the hour when the Armistice came into force, the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, there may be for the brief space of two minutes a complete suspension of all our normal activities … so that in perfect stillness, the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead. »

Taking the King’s shilling

26 March 1726. Last week as a labourer was going over Black-Heath to work, he met 4 fellows who press’d the poor man, but he begging heartily, and telling them his family must starve, &c. they yielded to his intreaties, provided he would give them some money, which he complying, they marched off. In a quarter of an hour he falls into another gang, with a Lieutenant, who likewise stopp’d him, upon which he bemoans his condition, saying, it was very ill fortune to be press’d twice in a day, that he had not one farthing left, having given half a guinea and three shillings to the other press gang. The Lieutenant hearing the story, went in quest of those who had extorted the money from him, and found them carrousing at an ale-house, and that they were sham press-masters; upon which he order’d the labourer his money, set him at liberty, and carried off the other chaps. [Mist’s Weekly Journal]

glass bottom 1


The payment of a shilling was offered to tempt lowly paid workers to leave their trade and join the British Army or the Royal Navy. The average daily wage during the Napoleonic period was 2d, that’s two pence or tuppence  and at 12d (twelve pennies) to a shilling, this represented six days wages in one go. Once the shilling had been accepted, it was almost impossible to leave the army.

So the expression « to take the King’s shilling » meant that a man had agreed to serve as a soldier or sailor.

A career in the army or navy was not especially desirable at that time so recruiters used all sorts of tricks, mostly involving strong drink, to press the shilling on unsuspecting victims. The man could escape his fate by paying his recruiter « smart money », however in the 1840s this amounted to £1 (twenty shillings), a sum which most recruits were unlikely to have.

Dropping the shilling into a man’s beer was a popular method of forcing a man to take the shilling, so landlords started serving beer in tankards made of pewter with a glass bottom. Men could check that there was no coin lurking at the bottom of the tankard. glass bottom 2

A further possible advantage of the glass bottomed tankard was that you could see your enemy coming at you when you were supping.




king's shilling

* Blog Post, written for fun & fancy rather than serious historical research, inspired by Shantyman Ian & his collection of glass bottomed tankards.