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!


New Exhibition - Diving Deep: HMS Invincible 1744

Shipwrecks and diving below the waves have long captured the imagination, so when the National Museum of the Royal Navy’s Community Archaeologist Eileen Clegg described new exhibition Diving Deep: HMS Invincible 1744 as the closest to “diving without getting wet” we knew it would be something special.

Immersive Underwater Film Exhibit in the Diving Deep Gallery Portsmouth Historic Dockyard Credit NMRN

It’s a brand-new interactive exhibition packed with objects saved from the seabed; lots of hands-on fun for the family (all with lashings of hand sanitiser) and a fascinating display that tells the story of HMS Invincible, one of the most famous warships never heard of!

Visitors Reading a Display at Diving Deep Portsmouth Historic Dockyard Credit NMRN

Invincible was a game-changer in the way ships were built and influenced the design of one of the world’s most famous and enduring warships HMS Victory – which sits alongside the exhibition in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

She was originally built for the French navy but captured by the British in 1747.  Sadly, she sank in 1758 when she hit a sandbank in the East Solent, the body of water along the Hampshire south coast. She languished there until rediscovered by a local fisherman, Arthur Mack, nearly 200 years later.

In a race against tide and times, the ship was excavated underwater by a team of divers, thanks to a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Full of stores, provisions and equipment, the team recovered significant finds such as swivel guns, a gun port lid, the main stay and even a mop head and bucket. It’s probably the most important underwater archaeological excavation of its kind in UK waters for nearly 40 years, after the raising of the Mary Rose.

A Warship with Wig Curlers at Diving Deep Portsmouth Historic Dockyard Credit NMRN

One of the more intriguing finds were wig curlers, also on display, as officers onboard were very keen to maintain standards in appearance! One of the hands-on displays even challenge visitors to have-a-go at curling some hair.

The exhibition uses the latest in digital technology to bring the often unseen and mysterious world of underwater excavation to life in a really inventive way. Visitors are surrounded by a massive three screen projection that showcases new ways of filming underwater.

Close up of the Immersive Underwater Film Exhibit at Diving Deep Portsmouth Historic Dockyard Credit NMRN

The exhibition is open for a year and tickets must be pre-booked at Buy an Ultimate Explorer today, and be ready for when the doors re-open after lockdown.

Replicas of Invincible’s artefacts already grace the gun decks of Victory and ticket holders can visit both the exhibition, Victory and the neighbouring Mary Rose Museum which is home to the world-famous Tudor shipwreck raised from the seabed in 1982.

Visitor Takes a Selfie with a Wig Prop at Diving Deep Portsmouth Historic Dockyard Credit NMRN

David Walliams and Great British Bake Off's Karen visit the dockyard

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is popular as an attraction and film site with many personalities that grace the screens and airways. Over the years we’re lucky to have many friendly famous faces visit us, from Dan Snow to Harry Hill, and movies like Transformers and Les Miserables (including the famous casts!).

Recently lovers of the ancestry-tracing programme will have seen David Walliams on the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? Television show in October 2020.

The actor, comedian and now popular children’s author met Tony Lidington at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard to learn more about his great-great grandfather, William J. Haines.

William, who described as "blind", was noted on the 1891 census as living in Portsmouth and gave his occupation as "musician". Tony ably demonstrated a Barrel Organ, similar to one that William might played around the local streets, entertaining the passers-by.

While Channel 4’s Great British Bake-Off personality, Karen Wright, visited Portsmouth Historic Dockyard during her September 2020 caravan tour and blogged about her visit. A model visitor, Karen booked online and secured a timeslot ahead of her trip.

She shares her trip around the dockyard and memories of a visit to see HMS Victory as a child in the sixties, and notes, back then, the Mary Rose was still undiscovered.
Karen writes in her blog “The Mary Rose museum is so fascinating and there are over 19,000 items that were found during excavation and recovery. All on display, including the full skeleton of the ship's dog, thought to be a whippet that was kept on board as a rat catcher.

After the museum, we took a trip on a boat around the harbour. This was great, I love boat trips. The commentary was very full and interesting. We sailed by the aircraft carriers, tugs, banana boats and the ferries, and saw the Spinnaker Tower.”

It’s always worth keeping your eye open around the dockyard as you never know who you might see!

Make sure you’ve got your Ultimate Explorer ticket so you can visit any attraction or museum you like as many times as you like in the future.

Catch up with these two famous visitors by reading the blog or watching the show…
Read more about Great British Bake Off star Karen’s visit, travels and baking exploits.
Watch David Walliams discover his ancestry on BBC show Who Do You Think You Are?



Portsmouth’s Mary Rose invites you to celebrate diversity

Were the crew of the Mary Rose white Englishmen or did diversity reign on board Henry VIII’s favourite warship?

During Black History Month and in light of the ongoing conversations tackling racial inequalities within society, the Mary Rose felt that it has a role to play within this conversation.

The Many Faces of Tudor England exhibition explores the latest scientific and genealogical findings into the crew of the Mary Rose. Through interactive screens, documentary footage, print material and a reproduction of an intriguing crew member nicknamed Henry - the exhibition helps us answer important questions about the crew.

Internationally recognised historian, writer and presenter, Dr Onyeka Nubia (FRHisS) says 'The Many Faces of Tudor England — helps us see another England, whose faces we do not know, whose voices we have never heard and whose stories have been forgotten. It is an England that is closer and further away from our perceptions and polemics, and it is absolutely fascinating.'

The discoveries point to a much more multicultural crew than we previously thought, the question arises: what further insights might a study of the remaining crew provide and what does the Mary Rose crew say about British national identity today? There is so much more to learn from the crew – come and explorethe diversity of Tudor life at the Mary Rose.

The Mary Rose, in collaboration with Dr Nubia, has produced a podcast giving an in-depth look at Tudor England. Download the podcast.

Visit the Mary Rose website to find out more about the Many Faces exhibition and explore how diverse Tudor England was.