Photograph of a wooden model ship with cotton sails.

Model of the Santa Anna

Frank Smith
Oak and cotton
LDOSJ 5685

In 1958 long-time St John Ambulance volunteer, Frank Smith, presented a model of the Santa Anna, flagship of the Hospitaller fleet in the 16th century, to the Order of St John. Mr Smith had built this model himself.

This ship model, also known as a Carrack, is a fantastic and detailed reproduction. The Santa Anna was designed as a warship, with many features that were considered very modern at the time. The detailed and delicate parts of the model unfortunately tend to gather lots of dust from being on display, so in 2019 we had a conservator come to give the model some care. We decided to have this conservation done on the museum floor, allowing visitors to see the conservation in action and ask questions about this specialist work.

Before conservation, the conservator assessed the item, and decided that the model  was structurally sound with all textiles intact and showing no signs of degradation. In addition to the dust that had gathered on and in the model, a few small pieces were loose or had become detached, and so would have to be secured to the model during conservation.

The conservator used a variety of special soft brushes and other materials to gently remove the dust from the fabric portions of the model, and used a specialist detergent in distilled water to clean the wooden surfaces using cotton swabs. The identified damaged sections were then put back into place and repaired with specialist adhesive.

The model is now one of five objects to feature in a new Key Stage 2 schools resource: Creative writing with collections, which you can download for free from our schools pages.


The Museum of the Order of St John would like to thank all those who have supported and continue to support its work. In particular, the Museum would like to thank the following for their generosity: