|Looking back down the main staircase from the museum main deck
As you come into the museum through the unassuming doorway in The Butterwalk, don't just rush ahead. There's a whole cabinet on your left that you're in danger of missing. Pause and listen to the short audio presentation as it invites you in.
As you walk towards the stairs notice two things about them: the first is that they spiral anticlockwise. If this were a castle that would be very unusual. The second is that the central spine is an old ship's mast. This reuse of timbers is common to all old buildings in Dartmouth. Another great example is The Cherub Inn. Many Dartmouth buildings are older than they look, too. It's amazing what lurks behind some modernish looking facades.
Here are two pictures, the first looks back once you've climbed the stairs. And yes, the pair of boots by the old ship's mast really are an umbrella stand for wet days.
The second shows the view onwards and upwards. We're hoping one day to be able to expand up there, but it's currently a tenanted flat. All Dartmouth buildings are very well used!
|The stairs up are used as exhibition space at the moment. At the top is a drum. It isn't Drake's Drum, that's in his old home, Buckland Abbey.
Have a look up the stairs when you come. So many of our visitors miss this small collection. The main ones who find it are our smaller visitors, quite often while sitting in the stocks!
Behind you as you look at the stairwell, just inside the office door is our small shop. We try very hard to sell things that are unique to us. There are very few things we hold in stock that are available from any other source.
Our lobby area is the core of the museum. It houses our collection of pictures, though the main archive is held elsewhere, and the different language museum guides. At least one of those is quite an idiosyncratic translation!
If you have young people in your party there are quizzes of different levels to suit them. They're professionally designed to suit age ranges, but we leave the choice of quiz to you. The elephant is the hardest thing to find. Grown ups often have trouble, too!
You started your tour as you came along the corridor and up the stairs. Now, as you're facing the ship's mast, turn to your right. The screen usually has a rolling display of pictures, and all the folders of photographs are for you to take down and leaf through. Your next stop is The King's Room. It's just to the right of the pictures.
When you've drunk in the splendour of the room and the magnificent models there, as you leave the King's Room turn left. Don't rush along the corridor to The Henley Collection. Instead, linger, and look at the walls. Just what are these tapestries, who made them, and why?
Why was the Britannia Royal Naval College founded here?
As you get to the archway with the key overhead (why is there a key here?) turn hard right. Don't miss the small shelves and intricate collection of hidden goodies. Don't worry if someone's close behind you, they'll thank you for making them realise it's there.
There's a lot to do and see in The Henley Study, so take your time. Make sure you have a look at the hands on exhibits on the central table. If you don't know how to use a microscope don't let that stop you. Ask one of our volunteer stewards for help.
There's one more room that's open without special booking, that's The Holdsworth Room. It was reopened in 2011 after a huge redesign exercise that took a lot of expertise to make it feel so open and airy.
Come back along the corridor, and turn left past the shop. The Holdsworth Room is ahead of you.
This room will be of special interest to our US friends, especially those who were billeted here or whose friends and relations were billeted here in the lead up to D Day in World War 2. We had an enormous number of our American friends here then and we get a lot of interested US visitors today. But the Holdsworth Room is not just about war. One day, when we have more space, we just know our curator and our designer will want to split the collections here up into more themes. Think of the room as a diamond with many bright facets.
|The very small museum shop where we sell items you just can't find anywhere else
We wish we could open The Jesse Room without a pre-arranged appointment. Just sometimes it's possible on the day, but booking will ensure you aren't disappointed. If you want to see it, please Get In Touch giving us at least a day's notice
After you finish your visit, but before you've quite finished, do two things:
- Visit the shop. You'll be surprised and pleased with the prices, and you'll be amazed at the booklets we have.
If you want to keep younger visitors in your party occupied we have a selection of colouring sheets and crayons for sale, too
- Please sign our visitors' book. Tell us what we did right and tell your friends. If we got it wrong, and we try very hard to get it right, please tell us and give us the chance to put it right.
And, when you get home, please tell your friends about us. And Tweet about us and share us on Facebook.