Home   What's On   News   Article

Discover the days of glory

Head back to the 1800's in Chartham Dockyard's new visitor experience
Head back to the 1800's in Chartham Dockyard's new visitor experience

Centuries of history is brought to life using the latest digital technology in the Hearts of Oak visitor experience at Chatham’s Historic Dockyard. What’s On found out more.

Chatham Dockyard played a vital role supporting the Royal Navy for more than 400 years.

From the Spanish Armada to the Falklands crisis, ships built, repaired and manned from Chatham secured and maintained Britain’s command of the world’s oceans, before it closed in 1984.

Now the Historic Dockyard museum, created on the site, has used the latest technology to revisit its past glories in a vivid way.

Hearts of Oak is a new, multimedia-rich gallery which guides visitors around the naval Dockyard in the early 1800s.

Visitors step back in time to 1806, joining retired master shipwright John North as he relives his role 50 years earlier as the carpenter on HMS Valiant and encourages his grandson to follow in his footsteps. But with the young man’s head full of tales of the heroic Admiral Lord Nelson, whose mighty HMS Victory is in Chatham for repairs following the recent Battle of Trafalgar, will he choose instead to go to sea?

Digital theatre is used to allow visitors to accompany North and his grandson around the Dockyard as they meet naval architect Robert Seppings, learn how ships were made and see the stories of the people and the vessels who once worked there.

The tour also takes visitors through the mould loft where HMS Victory first began life and offers an insight into the experience of taking part in a naval battle.

Chris Chedzey is among the actors taking part in Hearts of Oak
Chris Chedzey is among the actors taking part in Hearts of Oak

Hearts of Oak, funded by a £300,000 grant from the DCMS/Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund, is the first of four new galleries planned for the Historic Dockyard Chatham.

The Dockyard Trust is raising money for a major project, Command of the Oceans, which will enable the transformation of the remaining galleries in the Mast Houses and Mould Loft and develop a new gallery, telling the story of the 18th century ship Namur.

The remains of the vessel were discovered beneath the floor of the Wheelwrights’ Shop 18 years ago and eventually identified last year.

Nelson Triptych

The Nelson Triptych
The Nelson Triptych

Created by artists Alan Suttie and Adrian Purkis, the Nelson Triptych depicts the great man around 1800, visibly battle scarred and weary.

Considered a true likeness, the piece was researched in collaboration with various experts including the late Colin White, director of the Portsmouth Royal Naval Museum, with help from Nelson’s great-great-great granddaughter Anna Tribe OBE, both signatories to the work.

Other reference points included the life-mask, portraits, caricatures and contemporary accounts.

The Triptych was first publicly exhibited last year next to Nelson’s tomb in St Paul’s Cathedral Crypt.

The Victory Sculpture

The Victory sculpture
The Victory sculpture

This replica of HMS Victory has been created entirely from original oak timbers removed from the lower gun deck of Nelson’s Flagship during a restoration program in 1991.

It took sculptor Ian G Brennan 18 years on and off to carve the intricate model, which includes sails and rigging along with flags showing Nelson’s famous signal England Expects.

Hearts of Oak at the Historic Dockyard Chatham is open every day from 10am to 6pm. Admission is £17.50 for adults, £11 for children. Call 01634 823800.

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More