We took a little trip to Portsmouth when we were back in the UK over the summer. It’s not too far from my Mum’s and with interests piqued thanks to bookworms pouring over the guidebooks they had discovered on her bookshelves (she used to work for a publishing company), the Small People more or less went on and on about visiting until we gave in…
It’s always a bit of a strange but nice feeling being able to take my children to things that I visited as a child, as typically we are busy discovering things together in pastures new – but when it does happen, it’s pretty special, and this was a real trip down memory lane for me as well…
HMS Victory stands alongside several other points of interest in Portsmouth’s Historic Docks, including The Mary Rose (which we also visited, but I will report back on that another time), The Historic Boat Workshop, The National Museum of the Royal Navy besides many other things. I think it would be fair to say you need at least 2-3 days to explore everything thoroughly if you are a true enthusiast.
The Royal Navy’s most famous wooden Georgian War Ship will take you a just over an hour to scrutinize thoroughly in the company of two tiny history enthusiasts, taking into account the scrambling up and down of many different levels (watch your heads!) and imagining what life must have been like back then in the days of the Battle of Trafalgar and beyond aboard such a vessel…
In service for over 206 years, this ship is still commissioned by The Royal Navy, so there are days when it is closed off to the public.
Although there are guided tours available, the information on display is in-depth, and allows a glimpse into what life must have been like back then, from the hammocks swinging above the enormous cannons on the gun deck, and the Galley complete with stove that sustained over 800 men.
We did note however, that included in their daily ration was almost 7 pints of beer so it’s a wonder that they were victorious in anything apart from falling over, especially on choppy seas.
I like to think I would have been quite at home in the magnificent Great Cabin for the upper echelons of the crew – I bet those dining in the grand dining room had more than porridge for tea!
I had to laugh as next door to the dining room hangs a rather grand embroidered swinging hammock, which the Small Boy initially thought was a cot (although it belonged to Mr Nelson himself, made to measure in fact!) exclaiming “well that’s a stupid place to put a baby, right next to a cannon”. I have to say I agree with him on the cannon matter, whoever might have been sleeping in it – talk about a rude (possibly heart attack inducing) awakening!
Keep an eye out for the detail in places such as the little kitchen store-room, the grotesque operating theatre below deck, and the iron stocks for those who hadn’t been behaving quite so well. Also definitely worth keeping your peepers open for is the simple plaque that marks the spot where Vice Admiral Nelson died a heroes death during the Battle of Trafalgar (but not before being taken down to the operating theatre mentioned above!)…
All in all this is a great place to explore with any mini-history fans you might know, but do bear in mind the ship is currently undergoing a massive conservation/renovation project, so parts of it are currently cordoned off. It really doesn’t detract from a visit so don’t let it put you off however.
It’s definitely worth checking out the Tickets and Offers page on the Historic Dockyards site, as this is the most cost-effective way to plan your day, and you are able to combine it with other attractions. To visit HMS Victory on its own is £18 per adult, and £13.
Open times from 10am everyday throughout the year, except when closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
We went to a wedding there a few years ago! Portsmouth is brilliant – so much to do in the Dockyards.
What a fantastic place to have a wedding! Thanks Sally! :)
The Mini Mes and Me says
7 pints a day, that’s my kind of rations haha x
I know. It must have been an interesting day on board! :D Thank you…
I can imagine this is great fun. We’ve been to the SS Great Britain and it looks a similar sort of experience.
I think you would really enjoy it then. Thanks Adele! :)
It certainly looks like you had a good time, I love the picture of the hammock, You would certainly be rocked to sleep.
It would be nice wouldn’t it? Thanks Rachel! :)
We went a few weeks ago and the kids found it fascinating. I want to go back and see the new one now HMS M.33
That sounds great! Thanks Kara! :)
Trish - Mum's Gone to says
We really should visit HMS Victory as we have some of the reclaimed oak in our home. We have a beautiful platter but, on a whim at a craft year many years ago, bought a coffee table inlaid with pieces of Victory oak – one of the best things we have ever bought – we love it.
Wow, that’s incredible! What a great piece of furniture! Thanks Trish! :)
Mums do travel says
I’d love to go and explore the dockyard, and HMS Victory looks fascinating. Nelson’s hammock is fab – and how on earth did they manage to work while drinking all of that beer?!
Can you imagine when the sea was rough too, I imagine there must have been a lot of queasiness! :D Thanks Greta! (:
We’re only about an hour away from Portsmouth and we’ve not yet taken the kids to the historic dockyards, but it is on my rather long list.
Love the idea of not putting babies next to cannons, what a sensible boy you have. xx
Hopefully some of that sensibleness will happen when he gets his new sibling shortly Emma, we can but hope! :D
Michelle Twin Mum says
Thanks Emma, I keep ooing and frowing as to whether to visit the docks and all the attractions there but it does look fab and JJ loves history. Mich x
It’s definitely worth a visit! :) Thanks Michelle!
It sounds as though you had a great day out and so reasonably priced too x
If you keep an eye out for the saver ticket that allows you into all the attractions in one go, it’s definitely a reasonably priced day out! Thanks Rachel! :)
This looks interesting and well worth a visit. Thanks for sharing
Thanks Gemma! (:
Midlife Singlemum says
Hello, just catching up with your blog. About the cannon next to the bed – alarm clocks weren’t invented yesterday you know. They had to evolve through some pretty wacky ideas before we were able to wake up to Terry Wogan on Radio 2.
True enough, true enough! Will reciprocate later, hope all is well! (:
Sarah Bailey says
I went to visit the HMS Victory when I was in Primary School I think, would be great to go back again. x
We did the Mary Rose at our school, it’s changed a lot since I went last though! Thanks Sarah! :)
Erica Price says
We went a few years back and found it fascinating – we loved Warrior too.
We will save that for next time. Thanks Erica! :)
Jen Walshaw says
I remember visiting the HMS Victory with my mum and dad when I was little. It is great that people are still visiting now.
I think it’s important to preserve and visit these chunks of heritage! Thanks Jen (:
Mary @ Over 40 and a Mum to One says
I loved taking Monkey there last month, and reliving my childhood memories, it’s such an iconic piece of history isn’t it. We got a great deal on an annual price ticket through Amazon local which is really worth while for those able to visit more often, as you say, you can’t do it all in a day.
I think if you are close by, it’s definitely worth seeking out the saver tickets, it doesn’t make sense not to! Thanks Mary! :)
My son would love this but it’s a bit far for us to travel – it’s on my places to visit list now though x x
I think your son would LOVE it Cass! Thank you! (: x
Boo Roo and Tigger Too says
I haven’t visited HMS Victory since I was a teenager. It’s a fabulous place to visit, I really must take the children.
It’s great isn’t it? It’s changed so much since I went last! Thanks S! :)
I live quite close to this and yet have never been! I’m sure the kids would love it – one to check out in the October hols maybe :)
Definitely, your camera would love it to Annie! :)
That is so cool that your kids read guidebooks and chose somewhere they wanted to visit!
It’s one of my biggest family travel tips Elizabeth, to save them getting bored – let them get involved and choose what they want to see! :D
Louise Edwards says
I have heard about HMS Victory lots and lots, it looks brilliant. The perfect day out for a pirate mad boy or girl! Great photos. xx
Definitely good for pirates. Thanks Louise!
Mrs M says
That looks like a really interesting place, I’ve not been to Portsmouth in years!
Me neither until recently! :D
Abi - Angel Eden Blog says
I haven’t visited there in years and the kids have never been, I really must plan a trip
It’s really worth it! Thanks Abi! :)