The Ship itself is housed in a specially conditioned building, the wood is incredibly delicate and so must be protected from natural weathering. What remains is basically just over half of the ship, you can get a good idea of the way it was laid out and of course it’s size just by looking at it. There is also plenty of information that’ll explain exactly what each section of the ship was for. The collection of artefacts will astound you, there are hundreds of items that don’t just tell us about life at sea in the 16th Century but about each individual that worked on the Mary Rose. Weapons, tools and furniture help us understand their roles whilst their personal possessions help us to see who they are. Some have marked their bowls with inscriptions and others have personalised luggage, it’s absolutely fascinating seeing their stories laid out before you and certainly a worthwhile stop here at the Historic Dockyard.
One of Britain’s most revered Admirals and likely the most famous officer its naval history, Horatio Nelson’s story plays a big part in Several of the Dockyards museums. My first stop after seeing the Mary Rose was the HMS Victory, Nelson’s ship that lead his forces at the battle of Trafalgar. Naturally she has seen plenty of renovations since that fateful day however it doesn’t make her any less impressive. If stepping onto the ship isn’t enough for you there’s plenty to learn once you do, guides will tell you all about each room as you make your way round. You can see Nelson’s quarters, where the crew lodged, the impress array of cannons and of course where the man was shot.
Nelson’s story however does not end there, in fact there is an entire museum right next to the HMS Victory all about the man’s life called the Nelson Gallery. From his early start as a young lad, through his many campaigns and finally to Trafalgar you can learn all about him and his family here. There is a particularly interesting story behind the Chelengk, a jewel gifted to him by Sultan Selim III after his victory in 1798 at the Battle of the Nile. This is the iconic jewellery piece that he wore on his hat, he was extremely proud of it and it is said to be the first decoration of its kind to be gifted to a non-Muslim. Unfortunately, the Chelengk was stolen years ago however a replica sits in his place made to its exact specifications.
My last stop was the Trafalgar Experience. This exhibit gives you a step by step rundown of the Battle of Trafalgar. This was a real highlight of the National Museum of the Royal Navy for me, learning about the tactics that Nelson employed to defeat the French, not only that but simple changes he made to ensure efficiency amongst his fleet. After this you see on screen exactly how the battle played out and why Nelson is still revered as such an impressive tactician. Like I say there are so many sights, I only made it through around 200 years of history, barely touching half of what was on offer. I for one will certainly be heading back to see the rest though.