Five maritime museums that explore Britain's history at sea

Nautical but nice! From battleships to research vessels, rope makers to admirals these five museums explore our island's relationship with the sea.

Set sail on a journey of discovery about all things maritime. Ever wondered how Captain Scott got to the Antarctic? Or wanted to see what items were on the Mary Rose when it sank in the mid 16th century? You can find this out and much more at these five museums dedicated to exploring the seafaring history of Britain. All free or discounted entry with your National Art Pass.


Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Henry VIII's flagship the Mary Rose sank during battle in 1545 and remained at the bottom of the Solent for over three centuries, until it was raised from the ocean floor in 1982 following one of the greatest ever operations in marine archaeology. A museum built around the Tudor warship reunites the vessel with its contents and tells the stories of the 500 strong crew.

Available to view from nine galleries, the restored Mary Rose is the only ship of its kind on display anywhere in the world and joins the HMS Victory and HMS Warrior as highlights of the dockyard's collections.


The Historic Dockyard Chatham

Four centuries of maritime history come together in this 80 acre site, including three historic warships – the Victorian Naval Sloop Gannet, the Second World War Destroyer Cavalier and Cold War submarine Ocelot – and a working ropery which is the only one of the original four Royal Navy Ropeyards that remains in operation today. Another highlight is the No.1 Smithery, an environmentally controlled storage space for over 3,000 maritimes models and artefacts, a joint project between the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust, Royal Museums Greenwich and Imperial War Museums.


Captain Cook Memorial Museum

Visit the meticulously restored 17th-century house in Whitby where James Cook lodged as an apprentice, learning the skills that would enable him to rise through the military ranks. The museum contains letters by Cook, paintings and drawings by voyage artists, furniture, antiquarian books, ship models and ethnographic artefacts.


Discovery Point and Royal Research Ship Discovery

Captain Robert Falcon Scott's ship RRS Discovery, in which he made his first foray to the antarctic, was built in Dundee at the turn of the 20th century. Built specifically for scientific research in Antarctica, modifications were made to the sturdy whaling ship design Dundee was famous for producing. The successful expedition saw Scott and Shackleton and other crew explore Antarctica and make groundbreaking discoveries. The vessel returned to Dundee in 1986 where it is now berthed.


National Maritime Museum Cornwall

Overlooking Falmouth Harbour, this museum houses an extensive collection of boats, objects, art and literature with 15 galleries celebrating Cornish and National seafaring history.

Visitors can see life below the oceans in the Tidal Zone, view the harbour from The Lookout or even check out some nautical tattoos in the Tattoo: British Tattoo Art Revealed exhibition.

IndividualTiana Clarke Please note this is an example card and not a reflection of the final product

The more you see, the more we do.

The National Art Pass lets you enjoy free entry to hundreds of museums, galleries and historic places across the UK, while raising money to support them.

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