Life at sea

Gain a fascinating insight into the lives of sailors and seamen throughout history. From the protocols of the Royal Navy to the traditions, customs and working lives of 18th and 19th century crewmen, we explore what life was really like on the high seas.

The first naval Victoria Cross was awarded to Charles Lucas while serving as a Mate on HMS Hecla in 1854 during the Crimean War.

A Matthew Walker Knot keeps the end of a rope from fraying but its origins are a mystery.

Tattoos have adorned the highest born royals and the lowliest sailor in Europe for at least 5,000 years.

The ‘Vikings’ were seafaring raiders and traders from Scandinavia. The period known as the Viking Age lasted from AD 700 until 1100.

From brass buttons to bell-bottoms, garments traditionally worn at sea have long been adopted and adapted to create new fashions and statements.

Cleopatra’s Needle is the obelisk that stands on the Thames Embankment in London. It was transported from Egypt to London in 1877.

Designers from Vivienne Westwood to Galliano and Chanel have all created collections inspired by naval wear and maritime culture. 

The art of tattooing has existed for many centuries, across different cultures. We list 10 interesting facts about them and what they mean. 

The enduring influence of nautical styles in fashion have been long celebrated in British culture. Find out more about its origins and the role of Queen Victoria.

The ship’s biscuit was an important part of the sailor's sea diet before the introduction of canned foods. 

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