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.

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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Alan Villiers was a distinguished sailor, author and photographer. His work vividly records the period of early 20th century maritime history.

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The gold lace on naval officers’ uniforms has traditionally be used to indicate rank. But what are its origins?

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The hornpipe dance hasn't always been associated with sailors and dancing on deck. 

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As well as being a naval hero, Lord Nelson was an interesting and complex man. His letters and diaries reveal much about his character.

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