The Drake Chair - Divinity Schools, Bodleian Library

The Drake Chair - Divinity Schools, Bodleian Library

This chair is currently hosted in side the Divinity Schools in the Bodleian Library. The chair is constructed from the timbers of Sir Francis Drake’s ship when it was broken up. It was given to the Library in 1662 by John Davis of Camberwell, Keeper of the naval stores at Deptford Dockyard. The plate fastened to the front of the chair records this donation in Latin:

Sella Ex Reliquijs tabulatorum Navis Dracanae
Fabricata Et a Joane Davisio Depfordiensi
Arm: Navalium armamentorum Custode Regio
Bibliothecae Oxoniensi dedicate 1662

On the back of the chair there is also attached a tablet that hold commemorative verses by Abraham Cowley. The verses are Latin on one side and English on the reverse.

Orbe pererrato, Solarisque aemula Currûs
Quem valuit totum noscere, Digna Polo,
Eligit hunc Portum sapiens, rerumque perita,
Formam induta novam Pythagorea Ratis.
Non poterat meritis tribui Navisque Dracique
Nobilius pretium, nobiliorve Locus.
Nam sedet AEterna compostus uterque Quiete,
Et Dracus in Caelo Navis et Oxonij.

                                                         A. Cowley 

In English:

To this great Ship which round the Globe has run,
And matcht in Race the Chariot of the Sun,
This Pythagorean Ship (for it may claime
Without Presumption so deserv’d a Name,
By knowledge once, and transformation now)
In her new shape, this sacred Port allow.
Drake & his Ship, could not have wisht from Fate
A more blest Station, or more blest Estate.
For Lo! A Seate of endless Rest is giv’n
To her in Oxford, and to him in Heav’n
                                                   A. Cowley 

At least three other similar chairs are known to exist.