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Command
of the Oceans

Award Winning Galleries - Now Open!

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Nowhere is the experience of life during the heyday of the age of sail more alive than in the Age of Sail galleries. Discover how ships, including HMS Victory, were designed and built.  Immerse yourself in the vivid Hearts of Oak audio visual gallery and explore four superb new interactive galleries – ‘Command of the Oceans’.

Command of the Oceans reveals the full dockyard story, thrilling archaeology and long-hidden objects for the first time. It tells powerful, compelling stories of innovation and craftsmanship. It shows how Chatham Dockyard and its people helped lead Britain to worldwide influence. It features two internationally significant maritime archaeological discoveries – the timbers of the Namur (1756), intriguingly laid to rest beneath the floor of the old Wheelwrights’ workshop, and an incredible treasure trove of archaeological objects recovered from the sea bed, from the Invincible (1758).

Hearts of Oak

Join the now retired Master Shipwright, John North, as he relives his role as the Valiant’s Carpenter and encourages his Grandson to follow in his footsteps. What will the young man do? Become a Shipwright like his Grandfather – or follow his instincts and join the Royal Navy to be like Nelson?

People, Tool & Trades

Immerse yourself in the story of the dockyard’s 2,500 strong workforce during the Age of Sail and the crucial / pivotal part they played in maintaining Britain’s command of the world’s oceans.  Discover who they were, how much they earned and what they did.  Get hands-on with key trades and have some green screen fun as you step into the 18th century dockyard.

The Victory Gallery

Discover the fascinating, larger than life model of HMS VICTORY that has been a star in its own right – used in the 1941 film ‘That Hamilton Woman’.  HMS VICTORY, Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar, is an icon for both British sea power of the age of sail and for Chatham built ships. Built here between 1759 and 1765, the Victory returned to Chatham for major repairs both before and after Trafalgar.

Supporting the Fleet

Explore the role of Royal Dockyards like Chatham in supporting the fleet through over 100 objects recovered from the 1758 wreck of the Invincible, 3rd Rate ship of the line. Incredibly well preserved they bring to life what it was like to live, work and fight on board a ship of war during age of sail. Find out how sailors’ measured a ship’s speed, how food was prepared and served, how the guns were loaded and fired. 

Namur – The Ship Beneath the Floor

Be moved by the story of the Namur, the ‘ship beneath the floor’. A unique archaeological find over 10% of the frame of this 90-gun ship was discovered beneath five layers of floor of the Wheelwrights Shop in 1995.

Today visitors descend to the Namur’s final resting place, where the timbers are preserved, evocatively lit and interpreted. Find out what the archaeologists have discovered from them; explore their importance to the Age of Sail story at Chatham and the moving stories of those who served on board.  Turn detective and ask the intriguing question – why are the timbers buried here? 

“The Namur is the ship that defines this course of British history.”

– Dan Snow, TV Historian
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Book tickets now to experience Chatham’s Age of Sail Story – told in full for the first time