The Great Cabin

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Great Cabin, HMS Victory

Victory was usually in service as a flagship, meaning that she was the home of an Admiral in command of the whole fleet as well as of her Captain, who commanded the ship. Although life at sea could never be truly comfortable, with the constant damp and movement of the ship and the threat of sea sickness (from which even Nelson suffered), the Admiral at least had a light and spacious living space. Generally known as the Great Cabin, it occupies one quarter of the Upper Gun Deck and is actually in four separate parts.

The Day Cabin was the Admiral’s office, where he planned battle strategy, commanded the fleet and wrote his despatches. It was at the breakfast table here that Nelson wrote his famous prayer before the Battle of Trafalgar. However, all is not as it seems; concealed in the quarter galleries on both sides are ‘seats of ease’ – private toilet facilities. There are also gunports carefully hidden by bulkheads and seats, ready to be used when the ship was cleared for action so that even the cabin became part of the fighting machine.

The elegant Dining Cabin was used by the Admiral to entertain senior officers in style – it was here that over two consecutive nights in early October 1805, nelson explained his plan for battle to the captains of the fleet.

Outside the Dining Cabin is an ante-room, known as the steerage where valets, clerks and secretaries worked, along with the bed place. The Nelson cot is a myth, he slept on a “futon” style tent bed. It’s worth remembering that Nelson had one arm; was a very restless sleeper and would have suffered from sea sickness in the early days of the voyage – a tent bed was much more convenient for him.