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.

H.M.S. Theseus (PAF1833)

From 2014 the archives department has been focusing on cataloguing World War One manuscripts. In October 2017 while cataloguing, I came across the diary of a man who wrote only so his children would have something first hand from their father rather than just what they read in the news.


Learn how to make coffee according to a recipe used by 19th century seamen (warning: this is definitely not your regular flat white).


This month’s item of the month is a recently acquired prize ledger compiled under Sir Coutts Trotter and dating 1786–1792. It illustrates the workings of the administration of the Royal Navy, and how the prize money system was managed during this period. In many ways it is an early example of ‘bonus culture’, a very topical subject!