Remains of a British galley which stranded on the Stag Rocks after being forced to return to Falmouth in severe weather conditions in 1721. She was outward-bound from Portsmouth to Barbados, with some passengers on board, including Lord Belhaven who was intending to take up the Governorship of Barbados. Constructed of wood, she was a Fifth Rate Ship of the Line and had both sails and oars.
The Royal Anne, built at Woolwich and launched in 1709, was a fifth rate galley, and the last oared fighting ship built for the Royal Navy. She was carrying Lord Belhaven, the new Governor of Barbados, to the West Indies in 1721, but bad weather forced her to return to port in Falmouth and she was wrecked on the Stag Rocks. There were only three survivors, the most notable of those who perished was Lord Belhaven who was en route to take up the Governorship of Barbados. There were only six such galleys classified in the Royal Navy when she was built; they were an attempt to combine the advantages of sail and oar propulsion. On her launch the Royal Anne was described as 'a new invention under the direction of the Marquis of Carmarthen...being the finest that was ever built'.
The site was first discovered in 1969.
Designation Order: (No 2), No 2526, 1993
Made: 18th October 1993
Laid before Parliament: 21st October 1993
Coming into force: 11th November 1993
Protected area: 100 metres within 49 57 27 N 005 12 56 W
Designation Order: (No 3), No 1342, 2006
Made: 17th May 2006
Laid before Parliament: 17th May 2006
Coming into force: 7th June 2006
Protected area: 150 metres within 49 57.48 N 005 12.99 W
Designation Order: (No 6), No. 1470, 2006
Made: 6th June 2006
Laid Before Parliament: 6th June 2006
Coming into force: 7th June 2006
Protected area: 200 meters within 49 57.48 N 05 12.99 W
No part of the restricted area lies above the high-water mark of ordinary spring tides.
The Royal Anne, the Royal Navy's last oared fighting ship, sank off the Lizard in November 1721 with the loss of all but three of the 190 crew. She was completed on 18th June 1709 at Woolwich. On her final voyage she was bound for Jamaica with Lord Belhaven on board who was travelling to take up the governorship of the island. He was accompanied by 24 gentlemen, members of his family and servants.
'We hear the occasion and sad misfortune of the Royal Anne galley was coming to their taking the course but 11 leagues beyond the Lizard; whereas, it seems, the constant practice is of 18 or 20 leagues; and a strong gale coming at South West, drove the ship into the Bay, upon the Stagg Rocks, so that she was stoved to pieces. They write from Cornwall, that upon first notice of this misfortune, the people on the sea coast ran out of the churches, armed with their hatchets etc. to the seaside, in quest of plunder. The same letters add, that there was drove to the shore, one whose name is supposed to be Crosier, by some writings found in his pockets, to the value of 1000l. The letters from Falmouth advise that the body of a gentleman had been taken up at the seaside that had a diamond ring upon his little finger, and his shirt marked B, and is supposed to be the Lord Belhaven. The three persons who were saved by swimming upon the wrecks of the ROYAL ANNE GALLEY are George Ham, William Godfrey and Thomas Lawrence, a boy. The rest of the crew perished, besides Lord Belhaven, the Captain, Lieutenant, and about twenty four other gentlemen; the Lord Belhaven's luggage, and the chief part of his servants, were gone to Barbadoes about two months ago.'
The wreck site lies within a few metres of the Stag Rocks in an area of rocky seabed with deep gullies and crevices . It was discovered in 1969 by the Bristol University Sub-Aqua Club and a survey was subsequently conducted. Finds included 8 iron guns, silver coins dated 1710-1720 and pewter items. The site lies close inshore with rock gullies filled with large rocks overlying coarse sand and pebbles, and the area is subject to Atlantic swells.
In 1992 members of the NAS Southwest branch rediscovered the site. Silver cutlery bearing Lord Belhaven's family crest and motto and other identifiable artefacts confirmed the identification as Royal Anne. Exposed archaeological remains included two iron guns and areas of eroded iron shot. A small area was excavated and brass dividers, an inscribed gold ring belonging to the captain, wine glass fragments and lead shot were recovered.
Following designation in 1993, excavation and survey has been carried out and hundreds of artefacts, including a number of gold coins, have been recovered by the excavation team. There is no organic material on the site so no structural remains are evident although iron concretions are occasionally discovered. The site appears to yield artefacts only.
In 2005, a series of marine environmental assessments were commissioned