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July 17, 2006 | 08:35 PM

Wooden Worlds

Monday 17th July. 11.00 AM – ‘H’ Stage, Shepperton Studios. Finally onto the most spectacular set we have at Shepperton – a full size reconstruction of Raleigh’s ship ‘Tyger’.

There is something peculiar about opening the huge doors of what looks like an aircraft hanger and finding an Elizabethan ship inside. And what a ship it is. In fact it’s not simply the Tyger – the port waist is decorated as a Spanish galleon, the starboard beam and forecastle is the Tyger, parts of the deck will be another English warship and the whole thing will end up as a fireship being sent amongst the Spanish fleet at Calais.

But what makes this ship so special is the level of detail onboard. The ‘Tyger’ side is painted in original colours (Elizabethan warships were far from drab) as per the drawing in the Anthony Roll of 1545, the cannons, culverins and hailshot pieces come with boxes of the correct shot, powder and wadding as well as carved linstocks for initiating them. Even the naval gun carriages have graffiti carved on them by their gun crews.

Today Bess comes to find Raleigh in this, his wooden world. But will a lady aboard ship bring Raleigh the bad luck that sailing lore insisted a woman on board always brings?


6 Comments Posted. Post your comment

Wood Worlds

Something peculiar
about huge doors
finding what it is

In fact,
it's not simply
the decorated beam
and parts of another ship
being sent amongst the fleet

What makes this so special
is the detail
painted in original colours
as the drawing in pieces

Boxes carved for initiating
this wooden world

Bring luck...always


"Wooden Worlds", as we know from Shekhar's comments on set design, are organic and transient (as human flesh) and do not last like stone. But the ship is on water and water erodes stone and outlasts it. Boats always denote a spiritual journey, possibly death, and passage to another realm (and what is the body if not passage from this life?).

Justin, your closing question is interesting and, I suspect, has more to do with navigation than luck. What cruise, or journey, are Raleigh and Bess on? Where have they been? Where are they now (this transient/wooden ship)? Where are they headed? What do the stars say? Can they defy them (their destiny)? How does the orrery reflect in the sextant today?


Luck...I was asking the meaning of this word to someone.

What is luck?

Although, when I posed the question this time around, something different occured to me.
It has nothing to do with accidental chance or such circumstances.

Luck to me is a culmination of events leading to a point of distinguished phenomenon.

We all experience this "luck" be it sad or happy, interpreted individually, throughout our lives.

My take is, navigation is part of luck.

Didn't want to change the subject here, was just inspired to express this after reading Bill's comment. Whether it had to do with luck or anything else, don't know! Ahaha :)


Hey Justin & Bill

Raleigh and Bess have not travelled together, except with court, and around England that anyone knows.

Justin in this scene I am lost, the Tyger was the Queen's ship that may have been given to Raleigh in 1585 for his 2nd Virginia expedition, the Tyger was used by Richard Grenville as his flagship to lead the expedition. The Tyger may have been used again in the 3rd expedition in 1591 which would make sense being the same year of the secret marraige between the two. Raleigh never went to Virginia but he worked hard to prepare all the trips and possibly Bess visited him during his working hours but I see this as risky. I look foward the reconstruction.


WR - We chose the Tyger as we needed an iconic ship for Raleigh to command. We also could only afford to build one full size ship! I think I mentioned Raleigh not going to Virginia in an earlier blog but if not, in our story he does as it provides a more compact way of introducing the character and his background without having to deal with all the ancillary characters in the Virginia expeditions.


WR - I meant "navigation" as a metaphor in this scene for "steering" their lives. Although they could have used some luck or providence once their marriage was leaked. How odd history would have turned out if Bess did sail away with him to the New World.


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