The world famous gardens at Tresco Abbey on the island of Tresco in the Isles of Scilly, are bisected by a long straight path culminating in a flight of granite steps leading up to an imposing classical head. The steps are known as Neptune’s Steps and seem to confirm a classical connection, but there is a double deception here. Despite appearances, the head is not a stone sculpture but is made from wood, and the subject is not of classical origin but represents Father Thames. It is, in fact, the salvaged figurehead of the SS Thames, a 500 ton paddle steamer that sank on the Western Rocks (just off the coast of St Agnes) in 1841.
The story of the loss of the Thames is tragic and is an example of the hardship and dangers experienced by seafaring communities in the 18th and 19th centuries. The event was fully recorded by the minister of St Agnes at the time, the Rev George Woodley, and can be read on http://www.tresco.co.uk/what-to-do/abbey-garden/valhalla_thames.aspx
In a corner of the Abbey Gardens there is a museum of other figureheads from vessels wrecked in the waters around the Isles of Scilly. It is known as Valhalla and I have written about it in a previous post (see https://lagill6.wordpress.com/2012/10/21/shipwrecks-and-valhalla/)