Sometimes, it’s hard to tell whether you actually remember something, or your memory is based on looking at old photos. As a kid, whilst on holiday in Devon, we visited the Golden Hinde. I’ve seen photos of me wearing my Coca-Cola T-shirt, exploring the ship with my sister – climbing the steep steps to the fore deck and wondering if I could climb the rigging. Fast forward around 40 years, and on a visit to London, I knew Rowan would really enjoy the replica of this historic ship, berthed at St Mary Overie Dock, not far from London Bridge.
Having had recently discovered Pirates of the Caribbean, Rowan was really excited as we rounded the corner to find the galleon and its golden deer figurehead. We paid the admission price, boarded the ship and I was instantly taken back in time. The ship itself was smaller than I remembered (much like a curly wurly), but it was still just as exciting.
Originally called the Pelican but renamed mid voyage and captained by Francis Drake, the Golden Hinde was the first English ship to circumnavigate the globe, completing the voyage between December 1577 and September 1580. We were standing on the deck of a full size reconstruction that had also sailed 1000’s of miles, including its own circumnavigation, a voyage round Britain and two roles in the TV mini-series Shogun (I remember my Dad watching that).
We wandered round, climbing the steps to the upper decks, taking the ship’s wheel and admiring the wooden carvings.
Below deck, we were free to explore the various section of the ship. Rowan sauntered round pretending to be Jack Sparrow and sat at the head of the table as a very stern looking captain. I was surprised how small it was below deck – it must have made for pretty cramped conditions and lots of banged heads. I also couldn’t help but think of Captain Rum from Blackadder II.
Whilst on the gun deck, Rowan had a go at loading one of the canons – his crew mate explaining the process and much more about the history of the ship, with the boy listening intently.
So if you find yourself in London, with an hour or so to spare, take a look round this ship. We had a brilliant time. You can find opening times, more information about the ship’s history and some activities for kids here.