She was a armoured corvette launched in 1867 that became a prison hulk in 1897 and was sold in 1912
HMS Penelope was the last small ironclad to be commissioned in the Royal Navy.
The old Penelope (she with that stern) the Penelope, an armoured corvette of 1867 (a ‘corvette’ was defined as a ship with her guns all mounted on one deck, the upper deck, in the open: a ‘frigate‘ had all her guns on one covered deck, the main deck, immediately below the upper deck), was the first twin-screw armoured ship. “Her stern was unlike any other in the Royal Navy, or probably any other in the world.” Below the waterline, she had virtually a double stern, each with its hoisting screw and rudder.
She was specifically designed and intended to be a ship of unusually shallow draught; why this was so cannot now be established, but it is a speculation the Board of Admiralty intended her for inshore use in the Baltic Sea, where ships of greater draught than hers cannot come close to land without grounding. The same concept led Admiral Jackie Fisher, the First Sea Lord in the early part of World War I, to initiate the construction of the battlecruisers HMS Glorious,HMS Courageous and HMS Furious. Being of shallow draught, it was necessary to build her with twin screws, as a single screw (of larger diameter) would have been carried insufficiently deep to be adequately effective. This in turn required twin rudders, and an unusual shape to the stern which disturbed the free flow of water along the hull.
The shallowness of her draught made her a very poor performer under sail, and she was described as "drifting to leeward in a wind like a tea tray" (Captain Willes, R.N., one-time commander of Penelope).
She was a broadside ironclad, with the guns being deployed centrally on either side of the ship in a box battery. A limited amount of axial, or end-on fire, was allowed for by the provision of secondary gun-ports at the corners of the battery, through which the end-most guns could be traversed to fire. The 5-inch weapons, situated two forward and one aft on the upper deck, were of only marginal effectiveness.
She was the first British capital ship to be fitted with a washroom.