Thanks to MAST funding the public will soon be able to see a carefully crafted replica of this historic artefact. The plate, along with a number of other items recovered from the Coronation will be on view after Easter at Mount Edgecombe Museum in Plymouth. (Please check back for the opening date.)
The work will take about two months – not forgetting the seven-year apprenticeship and 45 years experience of the craftsmen from Wentworth Pewter in Sheffield.
How it's done
The plate is being made from a circle of sheet pewter rather than the original method which would have been cast from molten metal in a metal mould: this is because the location of the original mould is unknown (it may still exist in a private collection).
A craftsman known as a spinner will take the disc of pewter (somewhat bigger than the plate and around 2mm thick) and using hand tools push the disc into the shape of the plate whilst it spins on a lathe.
The form that the plate is moulded to is cut on the lathe again by hand from measurements taken from the original. Once the plate is made it will be reversed on the former and the same craftsman will cut in the line decoration around the rim.
After that Wentworth Pewter would normally finish the plate by giving it a highly polished sheen. In this case, however, the plate will need to be “aged” in a chemical bath. Finally the spinners will add the engraving and attempt to reproduce the various scratches and bumps, maybe by dropping it a few times!
Mick Shepherd, spinning a plate at Wentworth Pewter
Captain's Skelton's plate and the Coronation
A chance find by Peter McBride, one of the Coronation’s early discoverers, of a pewter plate bearing Captain Skelton’s family crest finally identified the shipwreck off Penlee Point as that of the 1685 Coronation.
Peter McBride with the original Skelton plate that he found in 1977
It is thanks to Skelton’s impeccable lineage that the Coronation shipwreck was identified: the family crest was the missing link. Skelton was the fifth son of Sir John Skelton, Lieutenant Governor of Plymouth, and brother of Sir Bevil Skelton, Groom of the Bedchamber to Charles II and Captain of the Guards.
He drowned with his ship – a subsequent court martial acquitted him and his officers of any “neglect or failure of duty”.
Some other Coronation artefacts conserved by MAST
A flint lock musket recovered from the HMS Coronation (1685)
Coronation pewter bowl
This engraved bowl was found on the Coronation Offshore site in 2015. The conservation, funded by MAST, was carried out by York Archaeological Trust
Coronation lead soldier
A rare find, this lead soldier was found on site.