Portsmouth

United Kingdom

Posted: Sep 16, 2021 | Updated: Dec 3, 2021

If you are interested in maritime history then this is the place to come. If this is only mildly interesting then content yourself with seeing the items used in everyday life by sailors in the early 16th century. If this doesn't really grab your attention then the syringes used in curing syphilis will, as well as make you cringe if you are male.

The main attraction is HMS Victory, the flagship of a Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The Mary Rose and its museum is the other main attraction. This ship sank in 1509 but was raised in the 1980s. Though only half the hull exists, the real value lay in the artefacts that were found on board and gave an insight into naval warfare and the life of the men serving England and Henry VIII.

Portsmouth is also the home of the British Royal Navy and because of this was heavily bombed in World War II resulting in modern Portsmouth being generally a bland place.


The Highlights

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Posted: Dec 13, 2007 | Updated: Dec 3, 2021

HMS Victory and Mary Rose

It has always been an aim to see HMS Victory because of the significance of the Battle of Trafalgar and Lord Nelson to British naval history. Though the ship was laid down in 1759 she still remains a commissioned ship of the Royal Navy though her duties now are purely as a museum dedicated to one of Britain's finest hours.

The Mary Rose and its museum also provides a fascinating experience with the audiovisuals and exhibits, some of which can be handled. Though the objects in themselves are interesting, it is the account of how the artefacts were used by people at the time which makes it more interesting and brings the past to life. I watched the remains being raised in the 80's and was hugely disappointed not to see what was supposedly a hugely preserved ship break the surface. My childish expectations of what 'preserved' meant had to be revised.

Being a warship, a number of the items are obviously war related such as the great number of longbows which were found. These played a vital role in warfare and the male population of England was expected to train in their use from an early age - even 'football' was banned. Visitors can handle a longbow and the challenge is to draw the bowstring to your chin. A life time of training made these guys strong - and the weapon lethal. Pulling back the bowstring to my chin on the 'lady longbow' was not a problem. A total of 250 longbows were carried on board and were used alongside other missile weapons.

Some of the longbows that were recovered have been tested to destruction. Even after this time, the draw forces were considerable and (100 pounds) analysis had shown the wood to be considerably degraded. Estimates today are that a good longbow would draw 150 to 180 pounds. Some would go up to 200 pounds but this is difficult for prolonged use. To see a long bow in use by a trained archer who has trained in the way that longbow archers would have trained centuries ago is here:

Longbow vs armour

Myths and Misconceptions about Agincourt

Its impressive stuff and was created to try and understand the performance of the longbow at the Battle of Agincourt - a resounding victory for the longbow archer vs armoured troops.

1) HMS Victory - Aft
2) HMS Victory - Starboard
3) HMS Victory - Starboard Fore
4) HMS Victory - Port entrance
5) HMS Victory - Figurehead
6) HMS Victory - Where Nelson fell
7) Mary Rose - Aft
8) Mary Rose - Midships
9) Mary Rose - Along the aft section
10) Mary Rose - Crew items
11) Mary Rose - Urethral syringe
12) Mary Rose - Cannon

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