Culture Minister Barbara Follett takes action to protect the wreck of HMS London, sunk in the Thames estuary in 1665

23 October 2008

Barbara Follett, Minister for Culture, today took action to protect the remains of a historic 17th Century ship, HMS London, which sank in the Thames Estuary nearly 350 years ago.

Her decision to ‘designate’ the remains under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 follows a recommendation from English Heritage.  The Order will protect the remains of the ship – located in two sites - from interference and intrusive activities.

Culture Minister Barbara Follett said:

“These rare and well-preserved remains provide a unique insight into one of the most significant periods in England’s history – a time when British naval power was emerging on the European stage.  I am delighted that we can extend the proper protection to this shipwreck.”

HMS London was a three-deck Second Rate warship built in Chatham in 1654.  She is known to have participated in the First Dutch War (1652-4) and later formed part of an English Squadron sent to collect Charles II from the Netherlands and restore him to his throne in an effort to end the anarchy which followed the death of Cromwell in 1658.  The London blew-up on passage from Chatham in 1665 with the loss of over 300 lives, an event recorded by Samuel Pepys in his diary entry for March 8th 1665.

Notes to Editors

  1. The Secretary of State has power under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 to designate restricted areas around the sites of wrecks which he is satisfied ought to be  protected from unauthorised interference on account of their archaeological, historical or artistic importance.  Before making a designation order, the Secretary of State is required to consult with appropriate persons (unless he is satisfied that the order should be made as a matter of immediate urgency). Once designated, it is a criminal offence for a person to interfere with the site except under the authority of a licence.
  2. The designation of the London brings the total number of UK historic wrecks sites designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 to 61. 
  3. The two restricted areas are bounded by straight lines whose corners lie at the points specified below.

    Site 1

     Point  Latitude  Longitude
     NW  51°29.7477'N  00°44.3802'E
     NE  51°29.7435'N  00°44.4159'E
     SE  51°29.7240'N  00°44.4091'E
     SW  51°29.7287'N


    Site 2

     Point  Latitude  Longitude
     NW  51°29.7622'N 00°43.9862'E
     NE  51°29.7532'N 00°44.0506'E
     SE  51°29.7244'N 00°44.0408'E
     SW  51°29.7334'N  00°43.9764'E

  4. English Heritage is the Government’s advisor on all aspects of the historic environment in England and carries out a number of administrative functions in relation to ancient monuments (including wrecks) in, on or under the seabed within UK territorial waters.  It has been issued with Directions by the Secretary of State pursuant to the National Heritage Act 2002. 
  5. Under these Directions, English Heritage has assumed responsibility for the provision of secretariat and administrative support to the Advisory Committee for Historic Wreck Sites, procurement and management of archaeological diving services, and processing of the initial stages of applications for the designations of wreck sites and licences under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973.

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