Western European churches, especially those near or in shipping towns, often suspended a model ship from the ceiling as a symbol of good luck for sailors. The practice is probably most common in Denmark, but is fairly widespread. It would be surprising if the current craze for ship chandeliers in decor (see the ship chandeliers in houses at bottom) weren’t related to this tradition. For a whole set of photos of church ships, see here. Photo at top is in Vilnius, Lithuania; second is on the island of Seili, Finland. For photos below, click on photo for information.
Above, Canterbury Cathedral. Directly below (and at very top of post), a crystal ship in the Saints Peter & Paul’s Cathedral in Vilnius; photos by Beny Shlevich. Below that, two examples of the ship chandelier that’s become so popular now. It and others are contemporary, but there are antique versions of it too, usually from the early 1900s.
The two interior design photos above—both of them strangely aristocratic/colonial—are of a house by Jonathan Adler, top, and an apartment styled by designer Lili Diallo, directly abvove. The big ships are beautiful but they do seem to connote plunder in the hold and ravages in their wake.