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Hampshire Map

At the time of writing HMS Victory is in a sorry state in two ways.

Firstly she is in the throws of a 13 year, £35 million conservation project which amongst other things has involved the "temporary" removal of her top-masts and much of her rigging.

Current (2016) estimates are that it could be ten to fifteen years before they can be reinstated.

Secondly, having carefully scraped through the many layers of paint, the conservators have figured out her original livery, and the powers that be have decided that we, the public, should be "given the opportunity to see what she looked like when she first left the yard".

Judging by the end result, it looks like she left the yard under-coated but they hadn't got around to top-coating her.

All I can say is, there was a good reason why later generations chose the aggressive wasp-like yellow and black livery over the rather camp, designer friendly taupe and charcoal grey she currently sports.

But at least this should put an end to any speculation over Nelson's, "Kiss me Hardy" remark.

Happily, inside things are much better. The admiral and captain's quarters once felt like a stately home, reflecting her many years as the Flagship of the First Sea Lord. Now they are presented in a way that makes her feel much more like a fighting ship. She no longer has that "slightly pickled in aspic feel" I noted at the time of my first visit.

The lower decks have been opened up, and visitors now follow a circuitous roped off maze through the ship. If truth be told the route could do with a few reassuring This Way signs; I met a few people who had lost the courage of their convictions and doubled back, and one woman was close to panicking as we descended deep into the bowels of the ship.