Parading the Colors


HMS Loyal London  •  1666

16 July 1666: the newly commissioned HMS Loyal London departs from Depford Dockyard on her maiden voyage. A 92-gun ship of the line, she had a length of 127 feet, a beam of 42 feet and displaced 1236 tons. Her brave display, splendidly depicted in this illustration from an old postcard, had a sad epilogue: Loyal London was destroyed by fire on 17 June 1667 during the Dutch raid on Chatham. The hulk was salvaged and rebuilt as HMS London in 1670.

Here the Loyal London displays the English naval flags typical of the reign of King Charles II: the Red Ensign, the Union Jack and the narrow red commissioning pennant. In honor of the occasion she also flies the Royal Standard at the main. The red flag at the fore is indistinct but is probably that of the Lord High Admiral—at that time James, Duke of York, the King's younger brother, later to become the ill-fated King James II.

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