Object Image

Oval silver arm badge (brassard) won at the annual Doggett Race, 1836.

The badge is embossed with a running horse (depicting the white horse of Hanover) and above it a scroll with 'LIBERTY'. Below the horse is another scroll inscribed: 'THE GIFT OF MR THOS. DOGGETT the late famous Comedian 1836'. The badge has a laurel wreath border with the winner's name 'James Morris' inscribed on the outer edge at the bottom. Three circular suspension rings are soldered to the back (and a fourth is now missing) for attachment to the waterman's prize coat.

Thomas Doggett, an Irish comic actor, regularly used water transport to get to the London theatres where he was working. In 1715 he proposed a rowing race between newly-qualified watermen to celebrate the anniversary of the accession of George I. It was rowed over a course of 'four miles and five furlongs' from London Bridge to Chelsea. Doggett left money in his will for the Company of Fishmongers to organise the race annually. Doggett's Coat and Badge Race still remains an annual Thames event every July. The race is claimed to be the oldest annual sporting event in continuous existence in the world. Part of the prize is traditionally a red coat based on 18th-century waterman's costume, with a silver badge on the sleeve depicting the white horse of Hanover in memory of King George I.

Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Caird Collection

200.0 x 175.0mm
Image and text © Royal Museums Greenwich, 2021

Where you'll find this

National Maritime Museum
National Maritime Museum
Permanent collection