Lady of Avenel was built as a brigantine by H.S. Trethowan, ship builders of Falmouth in 1874. She spent most of her life as a trading vessel mostly in the granite trade. In 1925 she became a support vessel for a British Arctic expedition, after which Wilfred Dowman, a retired windjammer captain, bought her and re-fitted her as a training ship.
In 1922 when the sailing ship Cutty Sark – then known as the Ferreira came into Falmouth for repairs caused by storm damage, the Dowman’s bought the vessel, and after a re-fit, returned to her original name. The Cutty Sark then replaced the Lady of Avenel as Dowmans’ training ship.
The Lady of Avenel was the sold. She continued to sail up to the 1950’s, and ended her days in Poole Harbour. By 1955 in a poor state of repair, she was stripped of her figurehead and other items of value, towed out to sea and sunk.
The figure was internally still in sound order. Some detailing to the hands and dress had worn away over the years, and it was decided to leave her as the old lady she now is, with the marks that tell of her life. Only areas that had completely rotted away were cut out, new wood put in and re-carved.
Paint analysis revealed a number of areas that were originally gilded, so these were re-defined to restore her to her former glory.