I do enjoy an educational day out with the children and our half term visit to Portsmouth fitted the bill perfectly. It was a freezing cold and slightly drizzly day but it didn’t matter as there were plenty of opportunities to nip inside between the outdoor explorations.
We headed straight for the Mary Rose Museum at opening time before it became too crowded. The history is incredible. To think this boat sank in 1545 and didn’t come out of the water until 1982!
You can walk the length of the boat and see the old drying timbers through the glass.
There are plenty of staff in costume to answer your questions as you go, of which we had many!
Old weapons, implements and such like had been preserved or recreated to fill in the learning gaps. Written, audio or interactive computer pads supplemented staff in costume so everyone could learn in their favourite way.
Watching the old medical procedures made my skin crawl, never again will I complain about an injection at the dentist! However the highlight for my kids was learning how to fire a cannon. They sat transfixed until they had the chance to lead the cannon loading process themselves.
Filled with awe and wonder at the lives they must have led we leaded for the outdoor picnic benches all thoughtfully set up in a spacious square with sails overhead to protect you from the elements.
A few well positioned statues provided interest and climbing potential for my younger children while we refueled.
The rain was holding off so we queued for the harbour tour, treating the hovering swan and seagulls to the remains of our sandwiches whilst we waited.
A helpful commentary complimented the tour with information on the ships we were passing, the work being done to them and battles they had fought. I must say this was the perfect way to take in the modern working harbour and the kids spent every minute hanging over the railings to see everything. I was quite glad of the captain coming round to ask them not to climb up the edges after they had ignored me saying the same!
In the Mary Rose Museum you can’t actually step aboard the ship as the timbers are so frail, however the same is not the case for The Victory. There was no queue so we walked straight on board.
On deck there were staff to answer our questions once again and the children love to touch and feel everything as they go, somehow I think this completes the learning for them.
Heading below deck my teens really had to duck, sailors were shorter in the 1800s! Nelson and his officers ate and slept in relative Luxury, however the conditions for the crew had deteriorated compared to when the Mary Rose was at sea and men as young as 12 were press ganged into working on the ship and enduring the harsh conditions. The daily nine pints of beer allocated per man was clearly needed to dull the senses to the life they were leading all cramped together to work eat and sleep with eight men to a station no bigger than a dining room table. Down in the base of the ship the barrels of beer and supplies were kept along with the rats running between!
Back up on deck Nick couldn’t resist enacting Nelson’s dying moment for the kids!
We checked out the modern day Navy Rooms on our way out, having fun with the costumes, machinery and comparing the living quarters which Theo decided were still not big enough for him!
Even the walk back to the car took us passed more statues and cannons. Our tickets are valid for a year and I hope we manage to return as we still didn’t see everything and missed out The Warrior which I’m sure holds more secrets of our war time history. I really recommend a visit, and do book online from their website where you can save 25% on the booking costs.
I received a free journalist pass but paid in full for my family.
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“Tales from the farmers wife” shares the funny and interesting happenings on our lovely holiday farm with Farmer Nick and our 6 children. A behind the scenes look on balancing family, farming, the holiday business and cooking for all.