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The wreck of the ‘London’



Type of spiritual experience



The London was a 76-gun second-rate ship of the line of the English Royal Navy, originally built for the navy of the Commonwealth of England at Chatham by Captain John Taylor, and launched in June 1656. She gained fame as one of the ships that escorted Charles II from Holland back to England during the English Restoration, carrying Charles' younger brother James Duke of York, and commanded by Captain John Lawson.

The London was accidentally blown up in 1665 and sank in the Thames Estuary. According to Samuel Pepys 300 of her crew were killed, 24 were blown clear and survived, including one woman.

A description of the experience

As described in Illustrations Of The Influence Of The Mind Upon The Body In Health And Disease, Designed To Elucidate The Action Of The Imagination - Daniel Hack Tuke, M.D., M.R.C.P.,


Unusually vivid sensations from external objects occasioned by cerebral excitement at the time will, as we have frequent proofs, remain, or be easily recalled, long after the original impression was received. This was strikingly shown in the experience of one of the survivors of the unfortunate "London."

When escaping from the wreck, in the boat, he would sometimes be baling out the water and half asleep at the same time. When in this state he could always see a vessel before him with her stern under water, her jib-boom and foretopmast gone, and her foresail shaking in the wind.

"It was the 'London' as she last appeared to me. At any time during the night if I were to close my eyes, if only for a second, the ship was always before me in this form."

And after being picked up by the bark next day, and able to have some sleep, he says, " and a troubled sleep it was. I passed through all the horrors of another shipwreck; and for many nights after, and I may say many weeks after, I had to go through the same ordeal."

The source of the experience

Hack Tuke, Daniel

Concepts and Symbols used in the text or image


Observation contributed by: Henry Ibberson