The Board of the Mary Rose Trust today confirmed that Helen Bonser-Wilton, Chief Executive, will be leaving the Mary Rose Trust at the end of March 2021. Helen is taking up an exciting new role as Chief Executive of the Leeds Castle Foundation in Kent. The Board is enormously grateful to Helen for all that she has achieved during her five and a half years at the Mary Rose and wishes her every success for the future. 

10 Christmas Gifts available from Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Tick some items off your Christmas shopping list with some help from The National Museum of the Royal Navy and the Mary Rose Museum.

 Here’s some great gift suggestions to suit the different friends and family in your life.

It might just give you an idea for that person you’re stuck on too!

For Children...

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Ernie The Knitted Sailor

Inspired by an exhibit from the HMS Gallery in Portsmouth, this lovely knitted sailor is the perfect memento of your time in the National Museum of the Royal Navy’s Museums.

The original was made by a Submariner, Ernest 'Gus' Britton representing himself as a Signalman. Gus's father served on HMS Caroline in the Battle of Jutland and Gus followed in his father's footsteps by joining the Navy at an early age.

In 1947 Gus served on HMS Alliance and later became a stalwart supporter of the Royal Navy Submarines Museum where today you can stand in the submarine that he served on.


New Kids Book Oct 2020 x2

You Wouldn’t Want to Sail on the Mary Rose! Book

This charming book, by Author Fiona Macdonald and Illustrator David Antram, mixes comedy and historic facts in easy to digest chunks for your children.

The illustrations are fantastic and encourage a little bit of learning too.

New Kids Book Oct 2020


For Adults…

 Figures items high

Naval Figures Homeware Range

This gorgeous homewares range has been exclusively commissioned and made for the National Museum Of The Royal Navy in association with 8901 - a military wife and sister owned company designing beautiful nautical pieces.  

The range includes: oven mitts, pot holder, apron, tea towel, tote bag, set of two napkins and set of two placemats. 

Shop the full range and check out our fine bone china mugs to complete the set. 

Your kitchen will look the best it has ever looked!

Tudor Gin scaled

Tudor Gin

Tudor Gin, made in Portsmouth by the Portsmouth Distillery, is a fine gin created using botanicals found on the wreck of Henry VIII’s Flagship, Mary Rose.

These include: Dandelion, Hazelnut, Hemp seeds and Cherry which combine to give a smooth, rich, dry gin complete with a burst of cherry.

With every bottle sold a generous contribution goes to the Mary Rose Trust, helping to ensure the future of this important project.

Perfect for a Christmas cocktail!

HMS Victory Gin and Rum

 HMS Victory navy strength g

HMS Victory Gin, made by the Isle of Wight Distillery, is a bold and strong, award-winning Navy Strength Gin. It’s packed with a high concentration of botanicals to deliver powerful, intense flavour worthy of the world’s oldest serving warship. A confident gin with heart and a sense of history for the Gin aficionado.

Take a look at HMS Victory Gin

Victory Rum Final 51

Raise a toast to naval history with the HMS Victory Navy Strength Rum, a rich, deep blend of the finest aged demerara rum, refined and rested in barrels, flavoured by an original oak stave from HMS Victory herself. A bold, smooth blend that packs a punch, like the Victory herself.

Take a look at HMS Victory Rum

 ballpoint pen

HMS Victory Ballpoint Pen

This is not just any ballpoint pen, it’s been exclusively handmade for the National Museum Of The Royal Navy made from wood taken from HMS Victory during her restoration work. You’ll be writing with a piece of history!

Choose from ballpoint or slimline ballpoint, each pen comes in a presentation box with a certificate of authenticity.

Please note - due to the nature of the item all items may differ slightly in colour/finish.

HMSV Bottle Stopper

HMS Victory Bottle Stopper

These bottle stoppers are made from wood salvaged from HMS Victory during restoration work.

Choose from a silver or brass finish.

Each piece comes in an HMS Victory kit bag with a certificate of authenticity.

Christmas Decorations

Henry VIII
King Henry VIII Decoration

This jolly historical decoration from the Mary Rose Museum will be a beautiful addition to any tree.

If you head to the online shop you can also get a Jane Seymour to join him!

HMS Warrior Ship

HMS Warrior Decoration

Our HMS Warrior Ship hanging decorations are exclusively designed and hand finished for the National Museum of the Royal Navy.

This beautiful decoration will add a touch of luxury to any Christmas tree.

Though there may be variations due to their personalised finish, the time taken to create each one is reflected in their unique quality. 

Christmas Shopping...

Well there’s certainly lots of gift inspiration in the list above – we hope it helps with getting the Christmas shopping sorted!

You can get these items from each of the relevant museum gift shops but, each one is also available online with delivery across the UK.

There’s still plenty of wonderful gifts to discover on each museum’s online shop if you want to keep browsing.

Visit The National Museum of the Royal Navy Online Shop

Visit The Mary Rose Online Shop

Happy Christmas shopping from everyone at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard!

Eight curious artefacts at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is home to some of the collection of the National Museum of the Royal Navy, the Mary Rose Museum and their more curious artefacts. 

From the unique and unknown whatcha-ma-call-its to the sublime and ridiculous thingy-ma-bobs, these items paint an entirely different picture of history. 

They show the hidden stories, the solutions to everyday problems, details about people and events and strange gifts given out of courtesy and tradition. 

There’s even items that still have us guessing what their purpose is. These are the truly curious of course, and we do have a lot of fun trying to figure them out. 

The best part is that each of these artefacts offer a completely different perspective on history, an insight into what life was like in these times and interesting details that might have otherwise been lost. 

Here’s eight of the most curious things we could find that are currently on display. Some will make you cringe, others might make you think ‘yuck’ but, we think you’ll agree all of them are weird! 




Find this in the new Diving Deep: HMS Invincible 1744 exhibition

Shipworm (Toredo Navalis) are eating the wreck of HMS Invincible. They can be found in the sea all over the world and are not actually worms, they are molluscs with a long slimy body and a tiny shell.  

They use their shell a bit like we use our teeth, to grind and chew burrows deep inside the wooden decks of Invincible.  

This is an x-ray that shows the shipworm burrowing away inside the wood causing huge amounts of damage. You can see the actual damage they have caused to HMS Invincible in the Diving Deep exhibition in the National Museum of the Royal Navy. 

 Antlers image


Find this in the National Museum of the Royal Navy 

Why does the Navy have antlers? It’s because they had a zoo on Whale Island, Portsmouth. The antlers belonged to Robin, a fallow deer buck, who died in April 1938.    

We don’t know how Robin got to Portsmouth but it is possible he was a mascot or gift to a ship.   

As there wasn’t enough space to keep larger animals on board, the crew probably gave him to Whale Island naval zoo when they returned home.   

Strangely animals were frequently used as gifts as you can see in another example in the picture below, and Elk presented to HMS Kent in 1984. And, that’s not the strangest there’s been reindeer, bears and all kinds of animal gifts to the Royal Navy over the years.  

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Nit Combs  

Find this at the Mary Rose Museum  

Eighty two nit combs were found on the Mary Rose, making them the most commonly found personal objects recovered. Apart from one made from ivory, they were all fashioned from wood, mainly boxwood, with a single alder example.  

Thousands of these combs were imported from the continent during Tudor times, and although most of them were made in wood occasionally an elephant ivory examples survives. As well as being used to remove nits and fleas they were also used to style the hair of the Tudor sailors, although several in the collection still have nits in them.  



Find onboard HMS Victory 

HMS Victory has two ‘capstans’, these are huge hand turned machines used to lift heavy weights like stores, boats and guns, as well as rigging. This one is believed to survive from the 18th century. To combat woodboring pests that have made Victory their home, in 2009 it was heated to 58°C for several days. This killed the pests to help preserve this historic part of the ship.   

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Pewter syringe   

Find this at the Mary Rose Museum  

Two metal syringes were among the artefacts recovered from the wreck.   

The larger is thought to have been used to treat constipation, whilst the smaller was a urethral syringe for the treatment of diseases such as gonorrhoea or syphilis.  

However the use of mercury for such treatment and the fact that mercury corrodes pewter rather rapidly suggests that this pewter syringe was more likely used to administer a non-corrosive fluid such as rosewater, or acidic ones such as wine or vinegar, which were used for flushing out wounds. They could also have been used for draining fluids and flushing stones from the bladder.  


Victory’s keel bomb damage  

Find this under HMS Victory  

In the Second World War a German bomb exploded in No. 2 Dock and Victory had a large hole torn in her hull.  

German radio propaganda claimed the ship had been destroyed but Victory was hastily patched up, but the bomb Victory left a 2.5m by 4.5m hole through the hull and part of her keel blown away.  

The repair to Victory’s keel can be seen when visiting beneath the ship in the dock. To boost morale during the war years, Churchill used Victory as a symbol of Britain’s heroic past.   

 The motorbike where it was stopped

Taliban Motorbike  

Find this in HMS Galleries in The National Museum of the Royal Navy 

In 2008, Royal Marine Sergeant Noel Connolly, serving with 42 Commando in Kandahar, Afghanistan, received a warning about a possible suicide bomber. When a motorbike later stalled near his unit, he approached the rider and saw a toggle to detonate a bomb. Sergeant Connolly rugby tackled the rider and discovered that it was packed with explosives. He received the Military Cross for his bravery.  

Sergeant Connolly asked his sister not to tell his mother what he had done as he didn’t want her to worry.  

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Find this at the Mary Rose Museum  

This ornately carved ivory earscoop, used to remove earwax from the ears of the owner, was found in a bone manicure set located, not in an officer’s chest as might be expected, but in the carpenter’s cabin.  

Ear scoops – many of which were made of silver, were a popular implement in the Tudor period and the find suggests that at least one of the carpenters took care of his appearance as there was also a comb, razor, shaving brush and a little mirror associated with it.  


Eight Curious Artefacts at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard 

These artefacts are just a handful of items here waiting for you to discover.  

The majority are on display across the dockyard and you’ll be able to see them all with an Ultimate Explorer ticket when you next visit us.  

The Ultimate Explorer ticket can be bought now, and doesn’t activate until your first visit. It will give you access to all of the museums, attractions and exhibitions at the dockyard and can be used an unlimited amount of times across the year. Plenty of time to discover the items on this list! 


Please note the items listed were on display at the time of publishing unless otherwise stated. But, our collections and exhibitions often change and new items are brought out to display and others put in storage. There is always lots to discover at the museums so be sure to come and visit us on a regular basis. 


5 Virtual Portsmouth Historic Dockyard Tours

Just because we’re in lockdown doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a bit of Portsmouth Historic Dockyard magic!

While you can’t tour the museums right now there are plenty of videos and virtual tours that highlight the different things to see here at the dockyard.

Plus, you have to admit, there’s a certain appeal to being able to sit on the sofa at home, with a coffee, and take a look around.

With this in mind, here’s five videos and virtual tours that you can view online. Pick one or two or watch them all and take a look at just a couple of the exciting experiences that await you here at the dockyard.

Watch a tour of Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

This video is a great one to start with, it’s a walk-through of the dockyard giving you an idea of how big it is and where the museums and attractions are.

With an Ultimate Explorer ticket you have access to all the museums and attractions you can see in this video.

Gaze upon the Mary Rose with this Virtual Interactive Tour

After 437 years, Mary Rose was finally returned to the surface in a maritime salvage operation seen by over 60 million people across the world. Now you can see it online but, there's nothing quite like seeing it in real life when the doors reopen.

Take a walk through HMS Warrior’s Gun Deck

HMS Warrior is a beautiful ship to explore and this video takes you through the main gun deck and shows you what life was like onboard.

Walk through HMS Alliance

HMS Alliance forms the centrepiece of the Royal Navy Submarine Museum along with Holland I and X24, the museum also contains thousands of photographs, documents, ship plans and artefacts.

The museum is located in Gosport on the former site of HMS Dolphin; home to the Submarine Service for 100 years. A waterbus takes visitors across the harbour to and from the dockyard.

The Ultimate Explorer ticket also gives you access to this museum and the waterbus service.

HMS Holland is also at this museum and it’s a very unique submarine with an interesting history, watch this walk through video to take a look around.

Meet HMS Holland

We hope you’ve enjoyed taking these virtual tours of our attractions and museum. Of course, there’s plenty more to see when we can welcome you back. We’ve not even covered HMS Victory, HMS M.33, Boathouse 4 or the Harbour Tour!

Make sure you’ve got an Ultimate Explorer ticket which gives you access to absolutely everything at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard for an entire year. If you buy a ticket now, your year won’t start until your first visit to us.

We can’t wait to welcome you back very soon!