Portsmouth – A tour around HMS Victory

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I would hesitate to say that I’m known for anything, but if I was, I think it would be for Age of Sail historical romance, with stalwart Naval heroes fighting pirates and scurvy and their desire for each other on the high seas. So I can’t let Portsmouth go by without taking a visit to HMS Victory, the navy’s (I believe the world’s) oldest commissioned battleship.

It occurred to me that for today’s step in the torch relay, I would take you on a tour of this historic ship. Just bear in mind that this is the top of the range for everything in the 18th Century ship line. The frigates my officers serve on would be smaller, more cramped, and probably infested with ship-worm, with gaps between the planking and half of the iron nails pulled out to use for barter.

So, here we have the pictures my husband took while we were going round HMS Victory in the summer. Naturally, as a romance writer, I thought I would start in the bedroom. Here is the top-class, absolute creme-de-la-creme of luxury for a naval officer – Admiral Lord Nelson’s sleeping cabin. :

His bed is a canvas hammock with a board at the bottom, covered by a thin mattress. The curtains were embroidered by Emma Hamilton πŸ™‚ And he has a reasonably large space in which to move because he’s sharing it with two cannons.

We took too many pictures to make a picspam at all reasonable, so DH has put them on his Flickr account, and you can see them all here:

All aboard for a tour of the Victory

But as it’s unseasonably cold here again, and the Victory is entirely without central heating, I suggest you warm yourself on the galley before you go πŸ˜‰

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Alex Beecroft was born in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and grew up in the wild countryside of the English Peak District. She studied English and Philosophy before accepting employment with the Crown Court where she worked for a number of years.Now a stay-at-home mum and full time author, Alex lives with her husband and two daughters in a little village near Cambridge and tries to avoid being mistaken for a tourist.

Alex is only intermittently present in the real world.She has lead a Saxon shield wall into battle, toiled as a Georgian kitchen maid, and recently taken up an 800 year old form of English folk dance, but she still hasn’t learned to operate a mobile phone.

For more on her m/m Age of Sail romances, and others, visit her site here πŸ™‚


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6 responses »

  1. I did a tour round the Victory a couple of years ago. It was great. Mind you the Navy wasn’t a good job for a tall man. I was ducking a lot and I’m only 5’4″. My six footer dad was nearly knocking himself out all over the place. It struck me how dark and stuffy it was below decks. It must have been a great relief to get up on deck.

    • Yes, I read somewhere that Admiral Cochrane had a skylight in his cabin, so that when he shaved he could stand upright, even though it meant his head was out on deck. He was a six footer as well. I’m 5’5″ and found the Victory not too bad, but on the other hand she was the biggest thing they had at the time. (On the other, other hand, I think 5’4″ was the average male height at the time, so it wasn’t quite as bad as it seems.)

      • I’ve heard so many different things about average male height – some say it was smaller, some say it wasn’t. Any idea where I can find a definitive answer?

        And did you find an excuse to bend down and touch one of the few bits of real, surviving deck?

  2. I’m not sure that there is a definitive answer, but I don’t remember Nelson being described in contemporary sources as particularly small and when you look at his coat now, he must have been tiny. In fact all the clothes I’ve seen from that era are tiny. So I’m inclined to believe that people in general were smaller then.

    *g* I touched everything I could get my hands on πŸ™‚

  3. Oooh, it’s a bit posh, isn’t it?

    We looked round HMS Trincomalee a few years back when we were staying up near Hartlepool – that was a bit of an eye-opener since she’s a frigate and I’d been writing Age of Sail fanfic πŸ˜€

    • Isn’t it just! All that mahogany in the Great Cabin. I still managed to feel seasick when I was in the hold, even though she was in dry dock though! HMS Trincomalee looks lovely. I must definitely visit her one day too. Thank you!

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