Portsmouth on the south coast of England has been a major naval base for centuries, and at the brilliantly presented Portsmouth Historic Dockyards visitors can get a real feel and sense of that naval history. From the moment you step through the entrance gates on to the cobbles, the attractions and interactive displays illustrate that the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is a fun as well as an educational place to be. There is so much to see and do here of which the following are three must sees.
The Mary Rose Museum
The Historic Dockyards ranked alongside Greenwich as one of England’s most fascinating centres of maritime history, and the Mary Rose Museum is a unique reason why. A Tudor warship famously raised from the bed of the Solent in 1982, this wonderfully atmospheric indoor exhibition of its painstakingly preserved remains is the only 16th century warship on display in the world. Wander around the museum to see all the Tudor artefacts, from the personal belongings of the sailors through to the ships two tonne guns.
Another ship, but certainly not just any old ship. Take the tour around Admiral Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory, which fought at the Battle of Trafalgar, and see the exact point on the ship where the mortally wounded Nelson died. Looking at the opulent Great Cabin where Nelson had his quarters and comparing that to the horribly cramp living quarters of the crew takes some believing.
Museum of Naval Firepower
Having explored the ships, the Museum of Naval Firepower offers a fascinating modern interactive look at the armaments that the navy has used to enforce its power on the seas. With audio-visual effects and hands-on displays you get a close-up of the guns, shells, mines and even an atom bomb that have shaped the course of history through the centuries.
Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is proof that historical education does not have to be dull, monotonous learning. It can in fact be great fun, completely interesting and often inspiring, bringing history to life right before our eyes.