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.
Desert Island (Flickr Creative Commons).jpg
Think you're struggling with social distancing? At least you haven't started singing to goats... Curator Jeremy Michell uncovers the remarkable real-life story of island isolation which inspired Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe.
The Sea-mans Dictionary: or, an exposition and demonstration of all the parts and things belonging to a shippe : together with an explanation of all the termes and phrases used in the practique of navigation by Sir Henry Mainwaring (London, John Bellamy, 1644) – library reference PBD7424 and PBE6223
Life at sea meant short bursts of work followed by short periods of rest, these four-hour long segments of the day are called watches.
Cocked hat, Royal Naval uniform- pattern 1843 .jpg
Designers from Vivienne Westwood to Galliano and Chanel have all created collections inspired by naval wear and maritime culture.
Robert Gale’s diary JOD.284.1
Archives Assistant Victoria Syrett explores a collection of diaries, notes and drawings by Robert Gale (born 13 October 1816) who joined HMS Rattlesnake as Captain Owen Stanley’s steward for a voyage full of exploration, death and rescuing damsels in distress.
HMS 'Erebus' passing through the chain of bergs, 1842 (BHC3654)
Ghost ships, sometimes also called phantom ships, are vessels with no living crew aboard. These may be real derelict ships found adrift with their crew missing, such as the 19th century HMS Resolute, or fictional and folkloric ones, like the apocryphal Octavius.
The illustrated London news: 21 December 1889 Stirring the Christmas Pudding (RMG ID: ILN)
We all have traditions around Christmas time and for many this will include a flaming Christmas pudding triumphantly brought to the dinner table, presented to both family and friends. Not all of us though, like a slice of Christmas pudding to round off our Christmas meal. I have heard it described as ‘the dessert from the depths of hell itself’ and ‘a flaming delight; a feast for the eyes and mouth.’ Both descriptions reminded me of a quote from Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol and made me wonder about the origins of the Christmas pudding.
Mercator terrestrial globe.jpg
Take a virtual spin and explore one of the National Maritime Museum's most important globes.
Cutty Sark wears a number of flags which identify the ship, her owner and her country of registry.
Life at sea during the age of sail was filled with hardship. Sailors had to accept cramped conditions, disease, poor food and pay, and bad weather.