HMB Endeavour In-Depth: The Officer’s Mess and Gentlemen’s Quarters

HMB Endeavour – In-Depth: The Officer’s Mess & Gentlemen’s Quarters
HMB Endeavour
Eagle Pier, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Another interesting area of the HMB Endeavour is the Gentlemen’s Quarters and Officer’s Mess which is stylized after which was expected it would have looked like on the original HMS Endeavour. As I was a volunteer tourguide for the ship while in harbour in Brisbane, I had to address questions for this area often from school kids, visitors, and tourists as they often bottle-knecked in their flow of traffic in this room as space is tight. It required some stooping to get to the area and to make oneself comfortable. A Marine, who were quite like “policemen” or guards onboard would be stationed here, wearing their bright red coats, to protect the Captain, the officers, and the scientific crew.

In the central area, surrounded by the officer’s cabins, was the “Officer’s Mess”. Here you can see re-created latticed pantries that were most likely used for food storage as well as meal preparation for the Captain and his fellow officers. It is now where the modern ship’s navigation and GPS equipment is setup. This is where the main officers would mess, relax, eat their meals, and write in their journals at the central table. This central table is replicated from Captain Cook’s table at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, United Kingdom. The sideboards are filled with china, pewter dishes, food, and drink. It is also where the “supers” onboard the current voyages would have snacks provided to them. The gentlemen’s servants often slung their hammocks in this room to be near to their masters, so the chambers was very busy and crowded. The glazed quarter deck hatch overhead provided light to the mess room and would have been where the Captain’s clerk Richard Orton who may have worked under. This area would have had two stern loading hatches which were sealed during the journey, but opened during anchor. All the meals were prepared at the firehearth which would have been a large iron cooking range bolted to the deck.

Cabins would ring the central room, most of which were little more than hutches sized approximately 6×5 feet with a deck height of 4 feet and 6 inches. Each would have a small hatch and internal window for ventilation. These were all fitted to Admirality orders to “have proper sashes glazed with stone ground glass for lighting the front and to finish the insides with bedplaces and lockers, and all conveniences that shall be required and its customary to do …” One of the cabins around the mess was the one belonging to Dr. Daniel Solander. Another cabin belonged to Charles Green, the astonomer. The cabin is decorated in period style, with a copy of his original journal on hand-made paper written with quill on his desk, as well as purported copies of curtains and bedspread that originally would have been weaved by his wife. Apparently during the voyage, a flying fish leaped through his portal hatch window. Near this cabin, would have been the cabin of Herman Sporing. The other main cabin outlining this room is a joint-cabin, where Sydney Parkinson and Alexander Buchan and Master Robert Molyneux and Second Lieutenant Zachary Hicks. In this re-created cabin are copies of Parkinson’s original paintings, belongings, clothes, books, and effects.

From this room entering into the Great Cabin would be on the right (starboard) side the cabin of Captain James Cook. This would have been the largest cabin on the ship, and displayed here in the replica are copies of his desk, books, charts, and uniform. It is based on the original April 1768 Deptford Yard plans. Like the other officers, he slept in a swinging cot which would be lashed up during the day. All the sheets onboard the museum are hand-loomed linen and hand-finished, while the curtains would be hand-loomed wool to replicate what they would have been like during the voyage.

For more Information About

The Living History Museum on board the replica of the HMS Endeavour –
The HMB Endeavour, while docked in port at Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Bibliography/Recommended Reading:


  • Australian National Maritime Museum
    2011: Guide Handbook. ( Issued during HMB Endeavour Around Australia 2011-2012: Voyage of a Lifetime ). ANMM: Sydney, Australia.
  • Macarthur, Antonia

    1998: “His Majesty’s Bark Endeavour: The Story of the ship and her people”. Angus & Robertson/ Harper Collins; ANMM: Sydney, Australia. ISBN: 0207191808.
  • Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia.

    2011 Website Referenced: ~ “Captain Cook”, “HMB Endeavour”, “HMS Endeavour”, “Joseph Banks”, “Solander”. en.wikipedia.org.

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