The beauty of royal barges….


Searching for snippets of information takes me (and everyone else!) all over the internet, and often to forgotten sites. My search this time was for information about the length of time a medieval rowed barge would take to go from Westminster to Windsor, and then back again. I still have no idea, but the Thames was one of England’s main ‘motorways’ and those oarsmen were well up to the job, so I think the voyage did not take as long as my modern self imagines.

Anyway, this webpage came to light.

I remember the wonderful sight of Gloriana at the Queen’s Jubilee. Downpour or not, the vessel looked amazing, and really brought the past to life again. The link is about various royal barges, and is well worth a browse.

Postscript: I have now received some information and links from Merlyn MacLeod to add to the above.  I now have a new word to conjure with: shallop. Thank you, Merlyn.

  • There are illustrations and facts at
  • “A shallop is a fast oar-powered craft rowed by up to eight men that was popular on the Thames in the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th Centuries. These Barges were the fastest means of water transport between business centres and residences and were the limousines of the lower Thames in the 17th and 18th century. An eight-oared Shallop could cover the 35 miles from Hampton Court to Greenwich in approximately four hours.”
  • The following is an illustration of a 15th-century Flemish royal barge. It’s one of the small shallops with only 8 rowers.flemish-royal-barge


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