Object Title

12 in mortar and mounting - Villantroy type

12 in mortar and mounting - Villantroy type

Date

1811

Object Number

XIX.244

Provenance

Presented as a token of respect and gratitude, by the Spanish Nation to his Royal Highness the Prince Regent, to commemorate the raising of the siege of Cadiz.

Physical Description

The chase of this piece is longer than usual, the reinforce being positioned at the region of the trunnions, which have strengthening flanges. The dolphins are plain. The vent is provided with a priming pan and above it is a threaded hole, perhaps for a sight. The cascabel button is formed as a flattened hexagon with a hole in the centre. The breech is engraved No 7390 SEVILLA I DE MARZO DE 1811. The surface is roughly finished, especially in the breech section. The muzzle has been slightly deformed


Mounting
The mortar, which would originally have had a plain bronze bed, is now mounted on an elaborate bronze cradle formed as a winged dragon with two tails, the head and body supporting the piece and the tails forming loops for the trunnions. At the rear are two dog's heads, probably intended for Orthrus the two-headed dog of the monster Geryon who was slain by Hercules at Gades (Cadiz). The cradle is mounted on a rectangular bronze plinth representing rockwork and having on each side a panel inscribed respectively in English and Latin:
TO COMMEMORATE THE RAISING OF THE SIEGE OF CADIZ, IN CONSEQUENCE OF THE GLORIOUS VICTORY, GAINED BY THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON, OVER THE FRENCH NEAR SALAMANCA, ON THE XXII OF JULY MDCCCXII. THIS MORTAR, CAST FOR THE DESTRUCTION OF THE GREAT PORT, WITH POWERS SURPASSING ALL OTHERS, AND ABANDONED BY THE BESEIGERS ON THEIR RETREAT, WAS PRESENTED AS A TOKEN OF RESPECT,AND GRATITUDE, BY THE SPANISH NATION TO HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS THE PRINCE REGENT.
At the front of the plinth are the Prince of Wales feathers and at the back is a panel inscribed:
CONSTRUCTED IN THE CARRIAGE DEPARTMENT ROYAL ARSENAL EARL OF MULGRAVE MASTER GENERAL 1814.
This mounting was designed by Robert Shipster, a draughtsman of the Royal Carriage Department, Woolwich, in 1812. Originally intended to be made of iron, it was eventually cast by the Department in bronze from old cannon using a mould prepared in the prepared in the Royal Foundry. The total cost was #2400. 13s. 0d., consisting of #980. 10s. 0d. for the casting, #1344 being the value of 12tons of old bronze guns and #76. 3s. 0d. the cost of the erection (W.O.44/517). According to a contemporary leaflet, 'Hone's View of the Regents Bomb' (n.d.), the mortar weighed 5ton and the pedestal 5.5ton

Dimensions

Dimensions: Length: 92 in (233.7 cm), Overall length: 96 in (243.8 cm), Mounting pedestal: 108 in (274.3 cm), Mounting width: 50 in (127 cm), Mounting height: 32 in (81.3 cm)

Firearms/Artillery

Serial Number None visible

Calibre

11.5 in _ (29.2 cm)

Associations

Places Spain

Bibliographic References

H.L.Blackmore, The Armouries of the Tower of London, Ordnance Catalogue, H.M.S.O. London 1976, P.150.

Notes

This mortar was one of two (the other being a common spherical type) which were presented to the Prince Regent by Duke del Infantado. It is of a pattern devised by Colonel Villantroy and first tested in 1800 which was designed to have a greater range than mortars of normal form. During the siege of Cadiz by the army of Marshal Victor, which lasted from 1810 to 1812, at least one Villantroy mortar was cast at Seville on the instructions of General Senarmont commanding the French artillery (see Favé, V, 59, Pl.107). No.XIX.244 may be the very piece. Firing lead-filled shells it had a range of nearly three miles (Douglas, 'Naval Gunnery' (1829), 61). Two other Villantroy mortars used in the siege of Cadiz were formerly in the Zeughaus, Berlin (H. Sterzel, 'Die Haubitzen des Obersten Villantroys de Berliner Zeughaussammlung', Z.H.W.K. XII, No.1, 19-21). No.XIX.244, which was placed in St.James's Park in 1816, is now on Horse Guards Parade, Whitehall.