20 May 2011 (released)
15 July 2011
Avast me hearties, pirates have dropped anchor at the London Docklands Museum and invite to a new and fascinating exhibition about one pirate in particular, namely Britain’s very own privateer Captain Kidd.
Not only that, but the exhibition – a brainchild of Tom Wareham, curator of Maritime History at the Docklands Museum - sheds light on how London’s corrupt politics were entangled in piracy like fish in mesh.
The launch also coincided with the anniversary of Captain Kidd’s execution on 23 May 1701 at the Execution Dock in Wapping, London. He was hanged twice (the rope broke on the first attempt) and gibbeted - his body suspended in a cage over the Thames. His corpse stayed there for two years as a warning to other pirates.
Original artefacts, archaeological finds and hands-on inter-actives reveal London's links with piracy dating back to the 17th century, including the capital's gruesome history as a place of execution for pirates. "Not so much the swashbuckling pirates looking for gold and buried treasure - the real pirates of the 17th and 18th Century would plunder trade goods with high value such as sugar, Indian silks, spices and coffee" says curator of fashion and decorative arts, Hilary Davidson.
From hidden treasure maps to female pirates and pirate clothing from the 1700’s, the exhibition debunks the myths and mysteries surrounding common perceptions of pirates. Visitors will read and see that there was very little glamour but a lot of brutality and harshness involved in this ‘lifestyle’. A pirate’s life for me? If this exhibition is anything to go by, I rather stay a landlubber! 17th and 18th century English society is also explored, looking at gruesome ritual executions and the greed and manipulation of the infamous East India Company. Over 170 objects are displayed, including:
* Kidd’s last letter with the promise of hidden treasure
* An authentic Jolly Roger pirate flag from 1789
* The Admiralty Marshall's Silver Oar
* A gibbet cage from 1750
* An early 18th century cannon
* Assorted pirate booty
* A Vivienne Westwood outfit from her seminal 1981 ‘Pirates’ collection
* An original 1724 edition of Captain Johnson's ‘History of the Pyrates’
* A sketch of Captain Hook’s theatre costume for the 1904 production of ‘Peter Pan’
The story of Captain Kidd helped create much of the pirate mythology we’re fascinated by since the Golden Age of piracy. Kidd’s legacy is found in every tale of buried treasure and with his contemporaries in crime, like Blackbeard, inspired much loved fictional characters from Long John Silver to Captain Hook to Captain Jack Sparrow. If you think you know all about pirates, think again!
So set sail and take course to the London Docklands Museum, where you can dive into the past for a day filled with nautical excitement. The exhibitions runs until 30th of October and further info can be found at www.museumoflondon.org.uk/docklands
Museum Of London Docklands
West India Quay
London E14 4AL
(Monday to Sunday 10am to 6pm / Tel: 020 7001 9844)