The Royal Navy has protected Britain's shores and coastline for hundreds of years and was once the most powerful naval fighting force in the world. Discover more about the establishment of the Royal Navy and how it has evolved. Plus, read about some heroic naval leaders and their infamous endeavours.

Despite leading an extraordinary life Emma Hamilton is probably best known for her scandalous affair with Lord Nelson, which lasted from 1799 to his death in 1805. 

Naval reformer, citizen scientist, serious player on the national stage, MP and prisoner of the Tower of London – Samuel Pepys was all these but it is his candid diary that has ensured he remains a household name centuries after his death.

The Royal Navy continues to be known as the ‘Andrew’, but there is no conclusive answer to the derivation of the nickname.

In the 18th century the Royal Navy began using copper sheathing to protect their ships from teredo worm, also known as shipworm.

Beagle was a Royal Navy ship, famed for taking English naturalist Charles Darwin on his first expedition around the world in 1831–36.

Martello Towers are castle shaped forts that were built on the south and east coasts of England in the first part of the 19th century.

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