AN Somerset aristocrat whose ancestor designed HMS Victory bought a model of the boat at auction - but was gutted to discover it was ''tiny''.

Sir Benjamin Slade, 74, is a descendent of Sir Thomas Slade, who used English oak to design the ship which beat Napoleon at Trafalgar in 1805.

He was ''delighted'' when he learned that a wooden model of the famous ship was on sale at an auction in Salisbury, Wiltshire.

Sir Benjamin bid for it over the telephone and managed to out-do other interested parties by paying £600 - a £575 fee, plus £25 commission.

He then contacted the auction house to enquire if he would be able to collect himself it in his Bentley - and asked if it would fit in his car.

Sir Ben was then left crestfallen when he discovered it was not a large model - just a section of it, only 173cm tall.

He then collected it and drove it back to his Stately Home, Maunsel House, near Bridgwater, which sits on his 2,000 acre estate.

The model is only a 'section' of the Victory, just a few inches wide, depicting the various decks, laden with barrels of gunpowder and stores.

Sir Ben said: "I thought I was buying a full model of the ship, not just a slice of it.

''It is a bit like ordering a birthday cake online and then only getting a slice.

''To think that I was worried that it would not fit in my car. Well, the joke is on me, that's for sure.

''To be honest I was prepared to pay a lot more - I got a bit of a bargain in the end.

''It was much smaller than I thought it would be. It's pretty tiny. Online it looked bigger.

''It one of those small models which lets you actually see a cross section and everything that went on inside the ship. I might put it on my bar.''

Luckily for Sir Ben, he does already posses a full five-foot long model of the Victory.

That was presented to his family by the Royal Navy in the early 19th Century as a gesture of appreciation of the genius of Sir Ben's ancestor.

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In April of 2019, Sir Ben offered 50 oak trees to the French to be used to repair Notre Dame.

HMS Victory, a 3,500 ton, 104 gun, first-rate ship of the line, was launched in 1765 costing the equivalent of £7.79 million today.

It was constructed using 6,000 trees, 90% of which were oak.

She was one of many ships designed by Sir Ben's ancestor, Sir Thomas Slade, the leading navel architect of his time.

She entered service in 1778 seven years after he died in 1771 and fought successfully in many battles until her most famous action, the Battle of Trafalgar on October 21 1805.

HMS Victory is the world's oldest navel ship that is still in commission, with 242 years service as of 2020, she is now permanently stationed at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and open to visitors daily.

Sir Benjamin is in the process of selling 400 acres of the Somerset Levels through Savills in Taunton.