Monday, January 28, 2013

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard - HMS Victory

 Cassie's Regency Tidbits.
Back in 2010 I visited the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. What a wonderful place! There is so much to see and do. We started off with a wonderful cruise around the dockyards taking in all the modern naval ships that were in for maintenance as well as commercial liners who had stopped off for re-fueling or a day trip.

Spinnaker Tower - the Centrepiece of Portsmouth Harbour

Portsmouth was, in the early days the south's best natural shelter and a key spot for trading by Britons, Romans, Saxons and Normans. They all used portsea island as a gathering place for their armies. As a result stores and warehouses and workshops appeared to supply and maintain the King's ships.

In 1194 Richard 1 granted the town its first charter and ordered a dock to be built. King John later (in 1212) ordered a wall be built around the new dockyard.

The historic dockyard is home to the Mary Rose - The flower of all ships. The HMS Warrior - The Black Snake and the HMS Victory - The world's greatest warship.

It it the Victory I'm going to concentrate on today. It is most famous for its involvement in the Battle of Trafalgar and having been commanded by the legendary Horatio Nelson.

The spot where Nelson fell is clearly marked by this plaque on the quarter-deck
In 1803 the Victory set sail from Portsmouth all decked out in the resplendent black and yellow. For 18 months Nelson chased the French, all the way to the West Indies and back, before meeting up with the Franco-Spanish fleet in the Mediterranean. Then, in 1805 on Cape Trafalgar off the coast of Spain the Victory led the British fleet into a sea battle that would go down as one of the greatest in history and make Nelson a household name. Unfortunately for Nelson he was mortally wounded in the same battle by a marksman on the Temeraire.

The galleries at the stern: Captain Hardy's at the top, Lord Nelson's in the middle, and the officer's wardroom at the bottom.

The victory was towed to Gibraltar for repairs, then limped back to England with Nelson's body preserved in a barrel of brandy in preparation for a hero's funeral.

low ceilings lead through main part of ship
firearms ready

The actual inside of the Victory is a mix of cramped and opulence. However, it is evident just how much work went into making sure every bit of space was used to its best advantage.

Also at the Portsmouth Dockyards is the sail with a huge cannon hole in it from the battle of Trafalgar. The display shows how massive the sails on a ship like the Victory are. Well worth a look.

I was surprised at how opulent the galleries at the back of the ship were. Nelson certainly wasn't slumming it.

officers wardroom
captain Hardy's room
Nelson's room

Besides the Victory, you can go on the Warrior and there is an amazing display with part of the preserved hull of the Mary Rose. The things that they were able to salvage from her were absolutely amazing.

Nelson's uniform

Sailors sleeping hammocks
Me at the end of a wonderful day.
You need a whole day to really appreciate this truly amazing place.

Sources: Portsmouth Historic Dockyard website:
Portsmouth Historic Dockyard Souvenir Guide book.


Allison Butler said...

Hi Cassandra,

Thanks for the wonderful and informative post. What a stunning ship the HMS Victory is, both inside and out. Your photos are fabulous and make me want to go and explore the dockyards myself:) NOW!

Cheryl Leigh said...

Lovely, informative post, Cassandra. I enjoyed your photos - we weren't allowed to take photos when we visited years ago. I'm glad this has changed.

Cassandra Samuels said...

Thanks Allison. It really is worth putting on your to do list. The whole place is fantastic.

Cassandra Samuels said...

Thanks for dropping by Cheryl. Really? You couldn't take photos? No one said anything and everyone was snapping away. There were many historic houses that did not allow flash photography, which I can understand but was frustrating at the same time.