The Warrior and Victory

The next stop on our giant England vacation was Portsmouth, where we hoped to introduce our friends from opposite sides of the ocean. Meanwhile, we visited the historic docks to tour the ships we’d previously seen from afar.

Our first stop was the HMS Warrior, the Royal Navy’s first ironclad ocean-going armoured battleship. As I mentioned before, it was launched in 1860, became a depot ship in 1902, was handed over for preservation in 1979, and is currently a museum ship.

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Aside from exploring the ship, you can apparently rent it for weddings. Our friends attended a wedding on the ship and apparently it was pretty awesome.

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(Imagine your wedding here)

The Warrior is as impressive as it looks from afar. You can wander the ships decks in any manner you choose. The lower decks are staged with gear from the time period, giving you a taste of life on a ship. The most noticeable characteristics are the low ceilings and narrow stair cases (more like glorified ladders). The captain’s quarters were impressive and spacious with comfortable furnishings, but the rest of the crew lived in cramped, confined conditions.

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I enjoyed wandering the engine and furnace areas as well, though I don’t know much about how the ship worked.

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The things I found most interesting during our brief wander were the areas of the ship set aside for kids activities. There were tables set up for colouring, dolls and even a puppet show. It’s obvious that family events are held on the ship and that it’s common for parents to leave their children with the workers attending these play areas while they attend other events in the docks. How awesome would it be to have weekend adventures on a historical navy ship?

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(Yes please!)

When we finished on the Warrior, we headed over to the HMS Victory. The HMS Victory is a 104-gun, first-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched in 1765. It is most famous as Lord Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

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In fact, today a plaque marks the place where Nelson fell during the historic battle. In 1922, the Victory was moved to dry dock at Portsmouth and preserved as a museum ship. It is the world’s oldest naval ship still in commission.

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As impressive as the Warrior is, the Victory far outshines it. Rather than wandering the decks at will, there’s a roped off path leading you through the ship along with detailed descriptions of each area. Unfortunately, most of my pictures of the Victory‘s interior are blurry, because flash photography is not allowed.

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It’s hard to believe, but the decks inside the HMS Victory are even smaller than those of the Warrior. They are lit primarily with lanterns to simulate period accurate light levels. The upper decks benefit from sunlight shining through the open cannon spaces. But the deeper you descend into the ship, the darker it gets. In fact, the sick bay was located on the top deck so that patients had easy access to sunlight.

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It’s an impressive piece of history, and I’m glad we got to see it. So that this post doesn’t get bogged down with photos (I took a lot), I’ll break it into two pieces. We’ll continue next time with our trip to the Mary Rose Museum, where I took even more pictures!

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