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Museum from Home

Dockyard days out

... from the comfort of your home

The Dockyard gate may be temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak but that doesn’t stop us from sharing the stories, insights and fascinating behind the scenes footage of our historical site. You can explore the intriguing objects in our collection online and enjoy virtual visits via video and photographs – our Museum from home.

This new page aims to bring a little bit of cheer in the current climate. The team at The Dockyard has come together to bring activities that help pass the time at home. We will share regular inspiration and insight via our social channels and into your inbox.

Click on the tiles below to explore the activities.

In addition to these activities we have a number of virtual tours of HMS Cavalier, created through a partnership with World of Warships. Take the virtual tour.

Monday Mission

... with the Captain's Cat

The Captain’s Cat is feeling lonely – there are no visitors at the Dockyard for him to play with. To help keep his is mind active and his creativity flowing he will be setting a challenge each Monday.

The Captain’s Cat will issue a series of easy of follow Dockyard Explorer instructions using items that you can find around the house, no special tools or skills will be required.

Great fun for the whole family – we promise they won’t make too much mess!

This week's mission ...


Celebrate the Dockyard bees and make your own busy, buzzing bee.

What you’ll need:

  • A4 paper
  • Printer
  • Tape

Last week's mission ...

Secret messages

Make a Cipher Wheel and crack the Captain’s Cat code.

What you’ll need:

  • A4 paper
  • Printer
  • Paper fastener / split pin

Transformation Tuesday

... remembering the past

Since a dockyard was established in Chatham over 400 years ago, the site has changed dramatically but key buildings and areas remain that allow us a brief glimpse into the past. Each Tuesday we will share a ‘then’ and ‘now’ photo.

Fitted Rigging House

This week’s Transformation Tuesday takes us back to 1918. The view from Anchor Wharf shows the Fitted Rigging House.

Built 1793-1805, the Fitted Rigging House (Grade I listed, Scheduled Ancient Monument) was where the Dockyard’s riggers prepared and stored the rigging for ships being ‘Fitted For Sea’. They used rope made in the nearby Ropery.

After significant restoration, the Fitted Rigging House is now home to Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust offices, our Steam, Steel and Submarines gallery, Reading Room, Archive and Conservation Lab, as well as a range of commercial tenants.



Midweek Mystery

... from the Collection

Each week we will look into the archive and collection and retrieve some of our more obscure and intriguing objects – your task is solve the mystery and work out what they are. The answer will be revealed as part of our “Object of the Week” each Thursday.

Check our social media channels every Wednesday when we’ll share a new image.

Wellness Wednesday

... looking after your mental health and wellbeing

Our current living and working situations present challenges for us all. Last year Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust became the first heritage site in the country to sign the ‘Time to Change Employer Pledge‘ which demonstrates our commitment to mental health in the workplace. There are also there are number of national, regional and local organisations that are equipped to help us through difficult times.

Each Wednesday we will focus on positive messages and direct you to resources for additional support.


Mind, the mental health charity, has published some advice on looking after your wellbeing during the COVID-19 outbreak. The advice includes practical advice for staying at home and support for work, benefits and housing.

Action for Happiness

Action for Happiness helps people take action for a happier and kinder world. It has published a Coping Calendar with 30 actions for looking after yourself and others during the global crisis.

Release the Pressure

The Kent and Medway Wide Release the Pressure Helpline is open for people to make contact with a counsellor. Call 0800 1070160  24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Teams are working remotely and lines may be a little busier than usual.

Small steps to mental wellbeing

  1. Give to others

Helping others is a great way not only to do good for someone else but to also make ourselves feel happy. Whilst the person you are helping will inevitably benefit, you will soon find yourself benefitting too. There are a number of ways that you can do your bit to help those in need throughout the community. This could be as little as a friendly phone call to somebody lonely, or if you can, offering more practical help to an elderly neighbour who might live alone.

Many reputable organisations are very happy to take on new volunteers to help with tasks such as driving elderly people in need or taking a dog out for a walk. If you would like to take a step further and volunteer for a particular charity, you can sign up very quickly and easily. We recommend reading into the NHS befriending scheme or the Silver Line scheme.

Find out more about NHS Volunteering tips and other schemes.

2. Connect

Staying connected is a great way to feel happy! Keeping in contact with other people not only combats boredom, but is also critical for minimising any feelings of isolation or loneliness. Talking to others helps to provide a sense of community and empowerment.

Top tips for staying in touch:

  • Phone or send a quick text to a family member
  • Host a virtual birthday party for someone who will be missing out
  • Make a virtual quiz or try playing games with some friends on the app Houseparty.

Download the Zoom app and instructions here.

3. Be active

Getting out of the house and being active is a fantastic way to feel good and more relaxed. Regular physical activity is directly associated with lower rates of depression and anxiety across people of all ages. Exercise doesn’t have to be particularly intense for you to see the benefits – slower-paced activities such as walking are just as good!

How about exploring somewhere new each time you go out? We have a great trail that allows you to discover the exceptional story of Chatham’s Dockyard and Defences. You can even take the option to go “off route” and discover historic sites – have you seen the new free pedestrian entrance to Fort Amherst at Barrier Road? Or the brand new amphitheatre? Thanks to the Command of the Heights project and the Heritage Fund for these great new additions.

Download the Chatham Dockyard Defences Trail Leaflet.

You can also download an accompanying App onto your mobile device: 


From the collection

... explore our objects online

Our Collections team will dig deep into the archive each week and share some of the fascinating stories and objects that we have the privilege of being the custodian for.

If you’re feeling inspired, we would love to see your own creative response to our objects – be it a drawing, a poem, a dance – you decide. Or if the object has particular resonance with you, please share your story or memory.

Object of the week

Plumb bob

A plumb bob is a weight, usually with a pointed tip on the bottom, suspended from a string and used as a vertical reference line, or plumb-line.

This example has been dated to the early 1900s and engraved with ‘A. Harbord’ with a delicate pattern. There is a sharp point to the end of the bob and an acorn designed top unscrews to allow the line to be removed. The line attached is a black coated material with possible cotton line inside.

Object of the week


Deadeyes are flat sided wooden blocks with three or four holes cut and a recess cut around their circumference. Made from either elm or lignum vitae, deadeyes are fitted in pairs and joined together by a rope lanyard.

Deadeyes were used as part of the ship’s standing rigging, most commonly in the shrouds and stays, where they were permanently tensioned to support the masts as they tried to flex and move with the pressure put on them by the wind filling the sails and the movements of the vessel.

The term ‘dead’ was used because they had no revolving sheaves. No doubt the original name of dead-man’s-eye arose from the remarkable resemblance of these blocks with their three holes to a human skull.


... kitchen science

Doc.Yard is in self-isolation in his secret lab but he’s managed to send us a few fun science experiments for you to re-create from the safety of your kitchen.

This week's experiment ...

Magic Pencil

An experiment to show how light travels through different liquids in different ways. Is it really magic?

Last week's experiment ...

Eggstra Strong Eggs

An experiment to show the natural strength within a thin egg shell.

Something for the weekend

... get creative with Arts Award

Why not get rewarded for your creative efforts? Accredited by Trinity College London, Arts Award Discover is an introductory award, designed for ages 5 and above, but is open to children and young people aged up to 25.

To achieve the Arts Award Discover all you need to do is complete the tasks set over the next 6 weeks and fill out the online Log Book.

Be as inventive and creative as you can! Write your experience or alternatively use photos, videos or collages to capture your experiences.

Activity 5...

Spies: Dazzle Ship

Dazzle is a type of ship camouflage used extensively in World War I designed to make it difficult for another ship to estimate the ship’s range, speed and heading.

What you’ll need:

  • A big juice carton
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Masking tape
  • Scissors / craft knife
  • Pen
  • Ruler
  • Fabric
  • Lolly stick

Activity 6 ...

Body Art: natural tattoos

In Tudor times, artists and writers created fanciful images of ‘Ancient Britons’ with bright blue bodies and fierce body art. Have a go at making your own natural body art.

What you’ll need:

  • Freshly picked flowers
  • Vasaline
  • Toilet roll
  • Hairspray

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – Notice to Visitors

As with the rest of the world, Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust is closely monitoring the situation around the global pandemic of COVID-19.

It is with sadness that following UK Government guidelines we have closed our visitor attraction to the public until further notice.

This closure also extends to Call the Midwife Official Location Tours.

Whilst outside of our control, we apologise for any inconvenience caused during this difficult time and would like to thank all our visitors for their understanding during this challenging period.

Last updated: 11 May 2020