Quarter gallery

A quarter gallery is an architectural feature of the stern of a sailing ship from around the 16th to the 19th century. Quarter galleries are a kind of balcony, typically placed on the sides of the sterncastle, the high, tower-like structure at the back of a ship that housed the officer's quarters. They functioned primarily as latrines for the ship's officers, and in inclement weather they also afforded those officers a view of the forward sails of the ship without having to go outside.[1] On certain vessels and under certain conditions, the quarter galleries could serve as a firing platform for the ship's marines and sharpshooters during boarding actions. The galleries also provided a structure that was ideally suited for attaching decoration and often bore carved wooden sculptures, particularly in the 17th century.

As small, wing-like extensions of the stern, the quarter galleries were difficult to secure to the hull and in rough weather were sometimes torn from it completely.[2] Quarter galleries were only ever fitted on vessels of war.[3]


  1. Erik Abranson (1976). Ships of the High Seas. Peter Lowe. ISBN 978-0-85654-019-6.
  2. C. Northcote Parkinson (11 January 2013). Trade in Eastern Seas 1793-1813. Routledge. p. 267. ISBN 978-1-136-23564-1.
  3. A Naval Encyclopaedia: Comprising a Dictionary of Nautical Words and Phrases: Biographical Notices, and Records of Naval Officers; Special Articles on Naval Art and Science. Gale Research Company. 1884. p. 675.
  • Laughton, L. G. Carr (1991) Old Ship Figure-Heads and Sterns Conway Maritime Press, London ISBN 0-85177-595-0
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