Sir Max Aitken
The Prospect . Cowes

About Us

Highlights of the Sir Max Aitken Museum

Spanning the entire length of the museum is the gaff from the royal racing yacht Britannia, campaigned by the Prince of Wales and subsequently King Edward VII and George V between 1893 - 1936. The giant gaff is approximately 51ft long and weighs around 900lbs. There are several other items from the royal cutter, including its tiller, the King's chair, some mast hoops, blocks and rigging, anchor chain and clock.

The museum tables were made especially for the room in the 1960's by Cowes boatbuilder Lallows out of Honduras mahogany and are still used today. Sir Max entertained many friends and dignitaries in this room over the years, including Uffa Fox, Ted Heath and Prince Phillip.

The cradle (pictured below) is a French Empire cradle, reputed to belong to Napoleon Bonaparte and Princess Marie Louise of Austria for use by their son ‘The Infant King of Rome’.

There are many artefacts relating to Nelson including a fine painting by Thomas Buttersworth depicting HMS Victory in the midst of the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. We also have a hand written letter, signed Nelson of Bronte , four paintings of the Battle of the Nile and various other important exhibits including a copy of The Death of Nelson (shown here).

furniture on a ship
painting of a wounded bride surrounded by sailors

Other items are more personal: these include a beautiful Valentine pin cushion, made by a sailor in the 1800s for his sweetheart and a ditty box, inlaid with straw, made by a French prisoner of war. These boxes were sold at the prison gates for extra money, food or tobacco for the prisoners.

Amongst the exhibits are several models and half models of various yachts, junks, clippers and yawls. Pride of place goes to a replica of HMS Victory made from ivory and silver. Another, made by a prisoner entirely of bone, is a replica of the French ship Redoubtable whose crew were responsible for Nelson's death.

There are many navigational instruments and other items of nautical memorabilia.

Adorning the walls of the museum are numerous paintings dating from the early 1600s to the 1900s, including those by famous artists such as Buttersworth, Peter Monamy, Thomas Luny, Swain, Nibbs and Norman Wilkinson.

In 1979, Sir Max created a charitable trust to preserve his collection and to make it available to the public as a museum. Despite his death in 1985, it remains a very personal museum and is much the same as he knew it, serving as a lasting reminder of a truly remarkable man.

ship room with long wooden table
painting of ships

Contact us

Sir Max Aitken Museum, The Prospect,
83 High Street,
Isle of Wight,
PO31 7AJ
Find us

Opening Dates

May - September

Opening Times

Tuesday - Saturday: 10.00 - 16.00

Admission is free.

There is no disabled access.

© Copyright 2024 Sir Max Aitken MuseumWeb Design by Toolkit Websites