Great Britain’s Royal Naval Museum is housed at Portsmouth, one of the Hampshire port cities that face the English Channel and the Atlantic Ocean. It is also home to the Royal Navy Museum, which makes it a draw for history buffs who can walk, see and touch Admiral Horatio Nelson’s flagship, HMS Victory.
The museum has been open for over 100 years, first opening its doors as the Dockyard Museum, as it was then known, in 1911.
The complex includes three buildings, which features exhibits including the Nelson Gallery, the Sailing Navy Gallery, the Nelson Gallery and the Victory Gallery. There is also an exhibit dedicated to The Age of Sail.
It also houses the World War One HMS M33 Monitor vessel in a drydock, as well as the HMS Victory. Britain’s most famous seaman, Admiral Nelson, was killed aboard the same vessel during the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. His fleet was facing a combined Franco-Spanish fleet.
Employing a bold strategy, Admiral Nelson broke the enemy ships’ line by sailing straight into it and firing deadly broadsides as he went. But during the brutal exchange, Nelson was hit by a bullet which lodged in his spine. He died some three hours later, but the battle was won.
HMS Victory was badly damaged and had to be towed to Gibraltar for repairs. She eventually took Nelson’s body back to Great Britain and the ship was then pressed back into service. She was moored in Portsmouth Harbor in 1812 and remained there until 1903 when she was accidentally rammed into by HMS Neptune.
King Edward VII personally intervened and finally, in 1921, a campaign began to restore the proud old vessel. One year later she was moved to her present position in Drydock Number 2 and work began to save her. Work was suspended during World War II, when she was damaged in an air raid. It took 70 long years to restore the ship to her former glory and she now sits painted in the same configuration that was carried that day, at the Battle of Trafalgar.