Region: South West

Disabled Facilities: Yes

Category: Day Trip Destinations

Address: Wapping Wharf, Bristol, BS1 4RN

Contact: 0117 927 6868



We offer one hour educational trips to primary school children. Our volunteers love to lead children’s groups and really bring what it was like on board to life. All trips are deigned to fit in with the national history KS1 and 2 curriculum – local history, John Cabot and the discovery of Newfoundland, the famous Bristol pirate Blackbeard, and life on board a Tudor ship. If you have any specific areas of study that you’d like us to cover then please call us to discuss.

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Exactly what does your venue offer to educational visits?

The Matthew is a replica of the Tudor caravel that John Cabot sailed from Bristol to Newfoundland in 1497.

We primarily offer one hour educational trips to primary school children, where our guides bring to life what it would have been like on board a Tudor sailing ship.

All trips are deigned to fit in with the national history curriculum. For KS1 the trip focuses on local history and pirates, including the famous Bristol pirate Edward Teach aka. Blackbeard. For KS2 pupils learn more about John Cabot and the discovery of Newfoundland and life on board a Tudor ship.

We do also offer school trips for older groups as well as foreign language schools. If you have any specific requirements or areas of study that you’d like us to cover then please call us to discuss.

Why you are you a great place for educational visits?

The Matthew of Bristol offers a truly unique educational experience that you will not find anywhere else. The educational sessions are run on board the ship itself, which is a faithful replica of a Tudor caravel ship – as far as we know she is the only one of her kind.

As well as allowing the pupils to explore the ship, pupil get to experience the ship in action as the ship cruises around Bristol harbour while the session takes place.

Our volunteer crew are exceptionally knowledgeable and take real delight in engaging children with the history of the Matthew and life as a medieval sailor.

What does a typical educational visit include?

We offer three standard trips:

Pirates! KS1, (Max 40 passengers), £180

A one hour session specially designed for reception, year 1 and year 2 children. Children come aboard for an exciting 45 minute adventure around the historic Bristol harbour on a real life pirate ship. Learn about Blackbeard, the infamous Bristol pirate, and his scary pirate friends and even hoist the Jolly Roger flag! Fancy dress optional, but encouraged.

1st Mate – KS2 (Max 40 passengers), £180

A one hour session aimed at Years 3 – 6. Become part of The Matthew’s crew for a 45minute trip around Bristol’s historic harbour. Learn about life onboard in Tudor times, how sailors sailed the ship and how it is done today. A lucky few may even get to steer the ship!

Deckhand (Max 50 passengers), £150

An hour long session aboard The Matthew while she remains moored at the quayside. Ideal for larger groups (or a slightly lower budget). Step aboard and learn about Tudor life at sea. How did sailors navigate across unknown and treacherous seas to undiscovered lands? Why did they go? What were they trying to find and exactly where did they end up? This is a fun talk with the captain and his crew. Learn some ropes, ‘steer’ the ship and see below the decks.

What group sizes do you cater for?

Our Pirate and 1st Mate trips can take up to 40 passengers (adults and children) and our static Deckhand session can take up to 50.

Do you provide projects, teacher’s packs, work sheets or any useful information?

We provide some resources to schools before they visit which they may find useful. This includes a quiz about the Matthew and medieval ships and a cut out model of the ship that children can make.

If requested, we can also try to arrange for a member of our crew to come and visit the school before the trip. They will bring in some artefacts for the children to look at and spend time talking about the history of the ship, John Cabot and Tudor times. This means that once on board there will be a little more free time for the children to enjoy being on the ship.

Are you happy for children to take photos, video or audio?

Yes we are happy for schools to take photos, videos, audio and drawings. If appropriate we also encourage schools to share them with us for use on our social media channels and website.

What is your process for booking pre arranged risk assessments?

We provide a standard risk assessment to schools when they book a trip with us and the crew give a safety talk before the start of every trip. Teachers/group leaders are welcome to visit us beforehand if they need to complete an extra risk assessment.

Does your venue have an education officer?

In the first instance please contact the office for school visit enquiries on 0117 927 6868 or and ask for Dovile or Rowen.

We have two trustees who act as education leads on behalf of the Matthew of Bristol Trust. Dr Evan Jones from the University of Bristol and John Wilson who leads the trips on board the ship.

What is the cost of the visit?

Pirates! £180 for up to 40 persons (adults and children)

1st Mate £180 for up to 40 persons (adults and children)

Deckhand £150 for up to 50 persons (adults and children)

Talks by a member of the crew – Donation plus travel expenses

If you want a bespoke visit please call the office on 0117 927 6868.

Is specific clothing required for the trip?

Please dress appropriately for the weather as there is limited shelter on board. Please bring layers as it can get cold on the water, waterproofs if it is rainy and sun cream if the sun is out. Pirate/sailor outfits are not provided but are encouraged if appropriate.

Do you have first aid on site or will the group need to bring a qualified first aider?

We have 1st aid on site.

Please list facilities available.

There are toilets below deck, which are accessible via a ladder. There are no lunch facilities but there are spaces to have lunch nearby on the quayside. We are also next to the MShed museum which has toilets and a private lunch room for hire.

What are your disabled facilities?

Unfortunately, as the ship is an accurate replica of a Tudor sailing ship so we do not have full disabled access.

This year we have moved to our new mooring and are really happy that we can now offer wheelchair access to the main deck, though the upper decks and below decks can still only be accessed by a ladder. If you have children with a disability in your group then we highly recommend a visit beforehand so you can check whether the trip will be suitable.

We have welcomed many children with special educational needs on board and have had very positive feedback from the children and their carers.

What are your opening days and hours?

We run school trip in hour long sessions from 10.30 – 14.30 (4 per day). We can also run trips in the early evening for other educational groups such as Beavers and Brownies. Please call to discuss.

Do you have any testimonials from previous schools we can include?

“I am sure you can imagine for many families taking a child with Special Needs is a daunting prospect. Your staff were amazing, totally understanding and so calm. Every member of staff went the extra mile to make this a truly memorable experience… A huge thank you from us to all and every one of you. As I said an amazing day and one of the best days out we have been on. Thank you, thank you, thank you”

Special Friends Club, Bristol

Is there anything else that you feel is important and want to include in your information?

We want to make sure that you get the very best out of your time with us. Please get in touch with Charlotte or Rowen in the office if you’d like to talk about any of the trips that we offer.

Age of Children / Pupils: Pre-school 5 – 7 years 8 – 10 years 11 – 13 years 14 – 16 years College University

Type of Visit: Boat Trips Historical Heritage Maritime Outdoor Education SEN Themed Attractions Team Building

Curriculum Topics Covered: Citizenship Drama History Leisure & Tourism

Months Open: February March April May June July August September October November