Trafalgar Tales: a literacy workshop with Eaton House The Manor School

Pupils from Eaton House The Manor School visited the National Maritime Museum on Wednesday 22 February 2017 with the aim of inspiring story writing back at school.  They took part in out Trafalgar Tales session which has been developed in collaboration with The National Literacy Trust.  The pupils produced incredible writing based on stories and objects from the museum’s collections—find a selection of their tales below.
“Thank you so much for the most brilliant trip last week.  We all came back to school buzzing from the whole day at the Maritime Museum, but especially the Trafalgar Tales session.  The girls were so inspired and have gone on to write amazing stories.”  Teacher from Eaton House The Manor School
To book a Trafalgar Tales session, see here 

I was lying in my hammock. I couldn’t sleep because the waves were tossing me. I went on deck. I saw the reflection of the stars glittering on the dark sea water. When the sun rose, I could see the colours of the rainbow. I felt as if I was in paradise. I went to put my ragged clothes on. As I put my clothes on I saw my blue eyes glowing. I felt so excited I wanted to dance. I felt so excited because it was my first voyage. For breakfast we had rotten biscuits. They were baked ashore and, unlike bread, stayed in good condition for months.

Ship's Biscuit, © National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.

As I was eating my rotten biscuits a message came from Admiral Nelson. “Every man should do his duty,” said Admiral Nelson. I loaded up the cannon balls and cleaned them up. Then I helped get the bandages. I knew the battle was going to start soon and I had a shiver down my spine. It was my first battle so I felt nervous and excited.

After that I had to sharpen my sword. Bang! A cannon ball hit the mast. The battle had begun! Admiral Nelson gave a message: “Fire!” It smelled like smoke on the boat. I could hardly breathe. Then my closest friend got injured. I went down to the surgery. My friend was lying there badly injured. I could hear him moaning.

I went back out to fight. I could hear muskets. A long time passed. Finally England won. I jumped for joy. England was victorious. We went home. I had a bottle of rum to celebrate. I felt sad because my close friend died. After I left the Navy I became a head master. That was my last battle.

By Alice Lowe


I was turning and twisting in my four poster bed. My velvet covers were at the end of my bed. I felt sick but I knew I had to keep my focus on sleep. I could hear the waves crashing against the boat. The only thing I could think of was the call of people getting shot. My poor family missed me so much. I decided to go and cook some breakfast, I pulled on my Admiral jacked and jumped into my silk trousers. For breakfast it was bug biscuits. The moon shone onto the angry sea. I admired the view of the sunrise.

But there was no time for breakfast. My cousin Admiral Nelson had just semaphored that every man must do his duty. The battle was in preparation! I told my marines to say their prayers and get ready. My heart leaped in my chest. I went into my private room and wrote a letter to my wife Lily and my two children, Samantha and John. Then a sailor burst into my room: “Admiral Sam, we are all ready!” I sprang to my feet. I told my soldiers to write victory or death on the cannons. In a split second my spaniel Lollypop jumped up to her feet. “Lollypop, check on the sailors please.” I spread sand over the floor. Then I semaphored to every boat. “The battle has started!”

Bang bang! The first cannon balls were shot at the enemy ship. I went over to my 6 year old cabin boy and comforted him. Suddenly a bullet was aimed at my cabin boy so I covered him behind me. It all went black. I felt tremendous pain in my left eye. I heard my little cabin boy apologising to me. “Don’t worry about me,” I replied soothingly. I was taken to the surgeon. “It seems that you have lost sight in your left eye,” he said. I put my finger gently on my eye, I put it in my mouth. I tasted blood.

After a day of fighting, I received a letter to tell me France was defeated. I felt amazing but also upset, because people had lost so many lives. I cracked open a bottle of rum to celebrate. “I would like to go home as soon as possible,” I declared courageously. We sailed home and I was happy to see my wife and children.

By Leila Bond

I was lying sleepless in a four poster bed staring up at the moon through my shut window. Time to get up, I thought. There had been a message and I’d need to start loading the cannons. I started to get dressed in my short silk yellow trousers and my gold and black velvet hat and coat. I went to have breakfast. I banged a biscuit on the table to get the insects out of it. After I had breakfast, I loaded the cannons and wrote “victory or death” on all of them. When I had finished, I started calling the crew. The Admiral called out orders to me that I could call the cook, so I did. The gunners were getting set.

In the battle, lots of enemies were dying, which I felt quite about but I was not happy about this, our Admiral had died. Another cook had only lollypops and I caught some, enough to feed all of us.

I loved that I won, well my whole crew had won. There were celebrations all around England. My crew got leant the Queen’s coach which we drove around England. We felt quite sad because our friends had died. Afterwards, I went to see my wife and my 25 children.

By Lily McGairl


The Fall of Nelson, Battle of Trafalgar, 21 October 1805 © National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.

I was lying in my bedroom trying to sleep. Finally, I got to sleep. The next hour I woke up. Today it was the day of the battle. I knew my role. It was to fire cannons and to tell people what to do. I felt terrified. Next I wrote a letter to my family telling them I loved them in case I wasn’t going to survive.

The trumpet gave the first trumpet BOOM! The first English cannonball was fired. I had to tell everyone what to do. I was so worried whether I was doing the right thing. I also had to load up the cannons. Then I saw my friend getting shot so I picked him up and dropped him off at the surgery. Next, I saw hand to hand fighting. I felt nervous and I felt that I would rather be in my room but I knew I had to fight. I could smell crackling fire and the salty sea. I could see people drowning. Then we all stopped fighting. One day had gone.

England had won! I jumped for joy and had a glass of wine with my friends. Then I remembered my friend that got shot.

I slowly prayed to god that my friend was not going to die. I said to myself I would like to be in the Navy again, because England had won.

By Lucy Skeggs

I was sleeping on the uncomfortable deck. A wave splashed my face and woke me with a jump. I realised it was almost morning. I pulled on my dusty trousers and my ripped shirt. I cooked a big piece of bread for everyone on the boat and they said “MMM that was so yummy!” I wrote a letter to my mum and dad because I missed them.

As I was writing my letter, a message came from Nelson and it said that every man should do his duty. I knew the battle was going to start soon and I felt scared. I shivered in fear. I saw seagulls rushing through the sky. The seagulls were white and they had lovely feathers.

I saw loads of flags on the boats. One boat was crashing into Nelson’s boat. I could see cannon balls. I could see a lot of fire. My friends were hurt and guns were near me.

But eventually the battle was over and England had won. I had a dance with Nelson. I was so excited to see all of my family.

By Azadeh Humbert