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,military spiral stairs being clockwise to favour right-handed swordsmen defending from above. Also suggested is many Dartmouth are older than they look, having modernised facades. The Royal Castle is a a good example. 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.
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.
Look at the display at the entrance to the Museum. This is where the Worldwide Industrial Revolution began when Thomas Newcomen designed and built the first viable steam pumping engine in 1712.
RECEPTION AND LANDING
Corridor leading to The Henley Collection
Our reception area and the first floor landing are at the core of the museum. Here we invite you to pay the modest admission fees, which the Trustees determine should be kept as low as possible commensurate with keeping the Museum financially viable and benefitting the greatest number of visitors.
To start your tour, there are a number of options. You can ask a steward to point you in the right direction or use one of the short tour laminated sheets [I have prepared a new set, with the Chairman’s approval] or, buy a guidebook (again at modest cost) which describes a fuller tour and is copiously illustrated.
For visitors with younger children there are more options. You can photograph them in the stocks or send them off with one of the many expertly-designed quizzes. In the Henley Study there are microscopes and other items that children are welcome to use. Or they can help open the drawers below the displays.
The suggested tour, short or full, is clockwise but visitors may wander as they wish. The stairs that you climbed continue on upward but are blocked off at the residential floor above. Pigeon-holed on the next wall is part of the substantial collection of photographs, many of which are shown on the rolling video display beneath.
The corridor to the right of the opening to the King’s Room has a giant golden key overhead at its end. This was the sign outside William Henley’s ironmonger shop and, appropriately here, is outside the Henley Study. On the left of the corridor are examples of woolwork pictures by sailors. Opposite on the right is a series of 16 embroidery panels, woven by ladies of the town, and depicting events associated with D-Day. The last item on this side is an extract from the Dartmouth and Brixham Chronicle of 2 March 1877 which says why Dartmouth was chosen for the new Naval College and, perhaps more revealingly, why the other places were not.
Back across the main landing is the entrance to the Holdsworth Room. Before that is the Museum Shop, greatly expanded in 2016 and offering a range of souvenirs of the visit.
Placed convenient for those about to go downstairs, there is the visitors’ book. Your entry and any comments are much welcomed. Comments on social media are also appreciated.