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 syphillis 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 Trafalger 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.
13 Dec 2007 - Portsmouth, EnglandIt 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.
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 though - hmmm!
HMS Victory - Aft
The rear of the ship formed the captains quarters, war room and dining area for the senior officers on board. Before battle the area would be cleared away and cannons put in so that with the forward cannons, 360 degree defence would be possible.
HMS Victory - Starboard
It is difficult to believe that this ship held about 850 men. Upon walking around along the decks it was obvious that life would have been very cramped. Illness and disease was the biggest threat to a ship such as this.
HMS Victory - Starboard Fore
Over the last few years the ship has undergone another very extensive restoration to bring her appearance to as close as possible to that which she had at Trafalgar for the bicentenary of the battle in October 2005. Replicas of items including mess bowls, beakers and tankards in the 'Marine's Mess', and a toothbrush, shaving brush and wash bowl in 'Hardy's Cabin' are on display.
HMS Victory - Port entrance
Entrance to the ship is through the the door looking structure through the side of the ship.
HMS Victory - Figurehead
The figurehead is a copy of that carved in 1801. The design comprises two cupids supporting the royal coat of arms surmounted with the royal crown. The latin inscription translates to 'Shame to him who evil thinks'. The figure head was damaged during the battle of Trafalgar.
HMS Victory - Location where Nelson fell
Photographs are not allowed on board but I managed to get this photo showing the spot that Nelson was mortally wounded. The brass plaque on the spot marks the spot.
Mary Rose - Aft
Medieval ships were constructed with fore and stern 'castles' which were used as a platform for archers to fire down on the enemy and as defensive positions in the event of the enemy boarding.
Sinking a ship was a difficult task with the weapons available at this time and it was more likely that an enemy ship would be captured. Because of this, the Mary Rose was covered in netting to prevent boarders. It was this which prevented many of her crew from escaping when she sank.
Mary Rose - Midships
Only the starboard (right) side of the ship has been preserved as a result of it being covered in mud over the centuries. It is currently undergoing continuous spraying with a waxy substance to preserve it. Here we can see a number of decks towards the stern of the ship.
In this, a model of a man has been used to give an indication of scale.
Mary Rose - View along to the aft section
Orlap is the lowest deck in a ship and is the deck or part of a deck where the cables are stowed, usually below the water line. It has been suggested that the name is a corruption of "overlap," referring to an overlapping, balcony-like half deck occupying a portion of the ship's lowest deck space. The gunwale is the strengthening band at and above the gundeck designed to accomodate the stresses of artillery.
Mary Rose - Crew items
Its amazing to think that these well preserved items were in daily use by people who lived 500 years ago. These drinking and eating utentsils and the candle holder look like they could still be used today.
Mary Rose - Urethral syringe
Used in the treatment of syphillis, this syringe would have been filled with mercury and then inserted up a mans urethral passage before being injected. Whether this worked or not, I do not know. Not very pleasant though!
Mary Rose - Cannon
This is one of the cannons that were recovered from the wreck site. The gun carriage has been reconstructed.