Most days, I wince whenever I glance at my inbox… No matter how many times I attempt to empty it, it always fills up quicker than I can ever work my way through it. Sometimes though, just sometimes, I get an email that gets me beaming from ear to ear. The invitation for a sleepover on the Golden Hinde was one of those! I’ve been dreaming of taking my little man on a sleepover experience at The Natural History Museum for years, so a similar experience on Francis Drake’s beauty of a ship was an immediate “Yes please!” from me! Sleeping rough doesn’t scare me and what better way for children and adults alike to get a taste for History?
When I was growing up, History lessons were the most uninspiring of all. I’m pretty sure the basic formula for recruiting History teachers went a bit like this in 80s France:
Find the person with the most monotonous voice ever, who has exceptionally rancid breath and can listen to their own voice for hours.
– Give them a qualification to ‘teach’ History.
– Put them in front of a class.
– Let them launch into a two-hour mind-numbing monologue.
– Watch the children die a little bit inside as they’re given a list of dates and associated historical facts to memorise…
Can you tell I didn’t ever feel particularly captivated in History lessons?
Had I ever been exposed to adventures like the sleepover on The Golden Hinde, with costumes and immersive role play, I’m pretty sure I would have memorised facts and dates a lot more effortlessly and paid some attention in History class.
The way my children are learning about History is so much more engaging than what I could ever have imagined. They have theme days for entire year groups focusing on a range of cultures, eras or specific historical events. They have a Roman Day at the Junior school, workshops on Vikings and staff even organise a sleepover on the school premises simulating a night during the Blitz. My four are also big fans of the entertaining yet educational TV series Horrible Histories, and Crevette has read a fair few of the books as well.
All that to say that a sleepover on The Golden Hinde is everything I love in a half term activity: family time with no electronics whatsoever, tons of fun and laughter, a non-negligible educational focus and a night away from home, all in the heart of London.
It was also everything you’d expect from a good ship tour, with anecdotes about Sir Francis Drake’s sleeping arrangements and stories about the 16th century.
I don’t want to go into too much detail not to spoil your experience should you choose to do it, but here are the sorts of things you can expect from a sleepover on The Golden Hinde:
- A fully immersive experience for all participants, split into two groups. We spent the evening with Penny from ‘Parentshaped’ and her lovely little crew.
- Tudor sailor clothing for all
- Sword Fights
- Learning about parts of the ship in context
- How to fire a canon
- A session with a Barber Surgeon to find out how ailments and injuries were treated in Tudor times
- Learning how to navigate the high seas
- A nice vegetable Tudor stew for dinner
- A night on the gun deck among the heavy artillery
- A Tudor breakfast
I’ve tried answering common questions below. I hope that helps!
Reasons to go for a sleepover on The Golden Hinde as a family:
The Golden Hinde is a full-size reconstruction of Sir Francis Drake’s ship which sailed around the world in 1577 and she’s like a real life pirate ship! As soon as you board the ship and change into your sailor clothing, you will travel back in time to experience life aboard The Golden Hinde in the 16th century. You will learn everything you need to know aboard the ship and your new skills will be put to the test when the Spanish attack!
Packing for Your Sleepover on the Golden Hinde
All we needed to bring was a sleeping bag each, our toothbrushes and pyjamas. We also packed some snacks and headphones as well as a battery-operated lamp. It all came in handy. I also needed quite a lot of tissues and antihistamines on the night, so if you have any seasonal or dust allergies, I would recommend bringing anything that helps your symptoms.
Where is The Golden Hinde moored?
The easiest way to get to the Golden Hinde is to get off the Jubilee or Northern Line at London Bridge and follow the signs. It’s just beside Borough Market, by the Thames.
The ship’s exact address is:
The Golden Hinde
St Mary Overie Dock
London SE1 9DE
Who can attend?
The experience is pitched at 6 – 11 year olds but you can bring younger children as long as you supervise them. There’s a lot of moving around on the ship and the stairs are really steep (they’re more like ladders, really).
How long does the experience last?
The experience starts at 5pm and finishes at 9am the next day.
When can I go and how much is it?
You can book the sleepover experience during the summer months and it costs £45 per person.
Will I actually get any sleep?
Probably not that much, but it’s all part of the experience, right? One thing I’d definitely recommend packing would be an inflatable mattress and maybe a small cushion. I felt broken after a night with no mattress or pillow! My headphones were perfect to listen to an audiobook when the lights were switched off shortly after 10 p.m. It also drowned out the sound of London revellers and the loud snoring from fellow crew members.
Is it safe?
There’s a security guard support staff on board all night.
Is it just for families?
The sleepover on the Golden Hinde experience can be booked for birthday parties, school or scouting trips and the ship is also available for private hire.
If you want to book or have other questions:
Telephone: 0207 403 0123
Here is a short video about our Sleepover on the Golden Hinde if you fancy having a look:
The sleepover on the Golden Hinde, moored in a dry dock on the Thames by the buzzy Borough Market, is a wonderful experience for children and adults alike. The actors set the stage for a wonderful experience and make everyone feel at home… Alongside a few other families, we all experienced life as a barber surgeon, officer and sat around the captain’s table, played games, entered a competition to load the cannons, all whilst learning about Sir Francis Drake. Exhausted, our little crew spent the night alongside the cannons. I couldn’t recommend the experience highly enough.
Disclosure: We were invited to experience the sleepover on The Golden Hinde in return for an honest review. All photos, video footage and opinions are my own.