Portsmouth Historic Dockyard------the home of HMS Victory, Mary Rose and HMS Warrior 1860(3)

Followed previous page...

HMS Victory

HMS Victory is the oldest commissioned warship in the world and the sixth ship to bear the name. HMS Victory is the flagship of the Commander in Chief Naval Home Command. However HMS Victory is well known for being the flagship of Horatio Nelson in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

HMS Victory was designed by Thomas Slade and commissioned in 1778, remaining in active service until 1812. HMS Victory was built at Chatham Dockyard in Kent and now lives in No 2 Dry Dock, appeared as at the Battle of Trafalgar 21st October 1805.

When you take the tour around HMS Victory you will be given an introduction leaflet that spot the tour highlights. Also there are knowledgeable guides around HMS Victory to answer your questions.

My first impression of HMS Victory was like to meet a mysterious lady. I was surprised to see the main colours of HMS Victory: dull black and yellow ochre. I think it is very stylish even at today.
One of the tour highlights is the Great Cabin, also known as Admiral’s Cabin, where the admiral lived and would have conducted his day to day work; where the Admiral entertained his senior officers; where Nelson planned the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Today Admiral’s Cabin remains in use as it always has been. Admiral’s Cabin is divided into four compartments and the splendour of the Admiral's cabin contrasts sharply with the living conditions of HMS Warrior 1860, not to mention the ordinary seamen on board Victory.

The centre of the Admiral's cabin is a round table that was part of Admiral Lord Nelson’s personal furniture; it is reputed, that Nelson wrote his final prayer at this table the evening before the Battle of Trafalgar. The dining table and chairs could be folded away in times of battle and guns could be positioned. In action, even the Admiral's cabin became part of the gun decks.
The Admiral had his own night cabin by the great day cabin and dining room. You can see Admiral Nelson's swinging cot here, with replicas of the hangings made for him by Emma, Lady Hamilton.
Up on the Quarter Deck you can see a spot marked by the brass plaque to show where a musket ball from the French ship ‘Redoubtable’ fatally wounded Nelson at approximately 1-15pm.
On the Upper Gun Deck you can see the main working area of HMS Victory. On either side of this deck you can see the ship’s heaviest armament of two 68lb carronades, which caused the most structural damage. Towards the rear of the deck is the belfry housing the ship’s bell which was struck every half-hour governing the sailor’s day. In the centre is the galley chimney. You can also see Leg Irons, which was used to flog the men that were to be punished.

Down to Middle Gun Deck there is an original 24Ib gun of the Trafalgar period. A fully trained British gun crew could fire this gun at a rate of 1 round every one and half minutes. Opposite this gun is the ship’s galley where food was cooked for all 850 crew. However at the battle of Trafalgar there were 821 crew on HMS Victory. By the way the marines and ship’s officers lived on this deck. No surprise the seamen lived on a further low deck: Lower Gun Deck.
The oak deck planking on Lower Gun Deck is original from 1765 when HMS Victory was launched. Up to 500 seamen would have lived on Lower Gun Deck and slept in their hammocks at night as well as worked in during the battle. It’s interesting to know what they eat and drink. The main meal of the day was dinner, that usually comprised of a stew of salt beef or pork and occasionally fish, which was accompanied by dried peas, beans or lentils. Owing to drinking water being scarce and of poor quality, beer, wine, grog or bandy was issued to the men to drink. At the bottom of HMS Victory I saw their storage compartment for food including the drinks.

Moving my steps I had a quick look at the Grand Magazine, that was the ship’s main magazine and occupied the fore part of HMS Victory. This was originally entered through a single hatchway via a complex of lead lined passages from the deck above; The hold, the largest single storage compartment on board, could contain enough provisions for six months when fully stored; At the front and rear of the Shot Lockers I saw 80 tons of shot was stored to supply the guns.

Without noticing I came across the Orlop Deck, that is below the water line and safe from enemy gunfire. It was here the surgeon would tend the wounded during action. When Nelson was wounded he was taken down to the Orlop Deck. Although I know I would see the place where he died before my visiting, I still felt sad while I saw Nelson Memorial and the painting The Death of Nelson by Arthur Devis in 1806.
Due the time limit I have not visited Royal Naval Museum, Trafalgar Sail, Dockyard Apprentice. However it doesn’t matter as I can go back whenever I like as long as I keep hold of my ticket within one year. The Dockyard is open every day (except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). There are several places to eat and drink, also a few shops for gifts.

I would recommend anybody to visit Portsmouth Historic Dockyard as it is a very interesting place to see British naval history. There are many things to do at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and Portsmouth.