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Command of the Oceans

Experience of life during the heyday of the Age of Sail. Discover how ships, including HMS VICTORY, were designed and built; immerse yourself in the vivid Hearts of Oak walking cinema and explore four superb interactive galleries.

Command of the oceans

the heyday of the AGE OF SAIL

Nowhere is the experience of life during the heyday of the Age of Sail more alive than in the Command of the Oceans galleries. Discover how ships, including HMS VICTORY, were designed and built.

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.

Explore 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).


We have worked with AccessAble to create individual access guides to our galleries and spaces. These guides give you the detailed information you need to work out if a space is going to be accessible to you.

Command of the Oceans Access Guide

Parking, Entrance, Ticket Office & Shop Guide

Changing Places & Accessible Toilets Guide

Getting Around Guide

What’s included?

Command of the Oceans Galleries

Immerse yourself in the vivid Hearts of Oak walking cinema and explore four superb interactive galleries.

Hearts of Oak

Join 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, Tools & Trades

Dive into 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.

Model of HMS Victory

The VICTORY Gallery

Walk around the fascinating model of 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. The model has been a star in its own right – used in the 1941 film ‘That Hamilton Woman.’

Supporting the Fleet

Explore the role of Royal Dockyards in supporting the fleet through over 100 objects recovered from the 1758 wreck of INVINCIBLE, 3rd Rate ship of the line. Incredibly well preserved the objects 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.

Timber of HMS Namur

Timbers of NAMUR

Be moved by the story of 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. Descend to the NAMUR’s final resting place, where the timbers are preserved, evocatively lit and interpreted.