Last Updated on February 27, 2022
Can you escape from the Golden Hinde?
The Golden Hinde is a full-scale reconstruction of the first English ship to sail around the world. Docked in St Mary Overie Dock on Cathedral Street, Southwark it’s a very central educational museum by day and has recently been transformed into an immersive escape room experience on most weekends. Escape from the Golden Hinde is a 60-minute escape game experience that immerses you into the story of the ship and certain elements of its history.
Set in two time periods, one in 1577 and the other in 1971, the theatrical adventure gets you (and your crew) into the Golden Hinde to solve fiendish puzzles and escape ashore within 60 minutes to prevent the ship from sinking. The experience is designed by the team behind Secret Studio, TripAdvisor’s No. 1 London escape game. Oscar Balfour, one of the game’s designers shares that “We’re immersing visitors in all the history and atmosphere of Drake’s ship, combined with the tension, challenges and team-building of a modern escape game.”
The Secret Studio team is a mix of filmmakers, actors and theatre practitioners. “Instinctively we focus on story and character”, says Oscar, “and the Golden Hinde’s long history has bucketloads.” Indeed, a central theme of the adventure is exploring the myths surrounding the ship’s central character, Francis Drake. While some view him as a glorious hero and the saviour of England, there is another side to the story which sees him contributing to a violent age. Like so many of his contemporary European mariners, he engaged in colonialism, slavery and piracy.
Escape from The Golden Hinde explores this truth in line with The Golden Hinde’s published statement “We recognise that the histories which surround our ship are rooted in colonialism and slavery: elements which can often be sidelined in stories of Francis Drake’s voyages. We acknowledge our responsibility to better communicate these narratives.” This side of the story definitely surfaces during the immersive escape experience, and there is one surprising decision that your crew has to make related to this matter.
The experience itself is incredibly immersive with an equal split of it being an immersive theatre experience and an escape game at the same time. An actor greets you at the door and does the briefing including the health and safety requirements in their character. Apparently, something weird is happening in the ship and your crew has been called in to solve some mysteries to prevent the ship from sinking. All the actors are ghosts from the ship’s past, and two time periods meld together inside the ship. One moment you might still be in the 16th century and another moment you might be in the 1970s. Inside the ship, the set and props reflect the time period you are in including the way you travel from one room to another, which is quite special, and I’ve never experienced anything like it before.
The actors are equally a big part of the experience. Sometimes, they may say something funny like, “Well done, I’ve been trying to solve this for the last hundred years and you did it in a few minutes!” which really adds to the fun. They also barge into the room to give clues, offer guidance, let you know how much time you have until the ship is bound to sink or just to check that everyone is doing okay. While there are elements of surprise, no one is going to unwantedly grab you or anything, so no need to worry about that.
Finally, the location is another big highlight of the experience. Throughout Escape the Golden Hinde, you will be able to explore all parts of the ship except for the Captain’s Cabin. It will feel like a private experience because it’s only you and your crew with an actor or two who will be inside the part of the ship you’re exploring. With the ship having low ceilings, everyone is advised to wear a hard hat to prevent head injuries. In true 16th century style, there will also be some physical challenges that will require some muscling through although the ghosts might be able to help if you’re stuck.
The experience is suitable for visitors to London, corporate teams, stag/hen parties, and families as long as they are over 10 years old. There will also be a kids’ version coming soon. Unfortunately, wheelchair users aren’t accommodated since the 16th century didn’t really account for the space required by users back then. With low ceilings and tight spaces, the replica ship tries to be as true to the original as possible. So, do you have what it takes to go back in time and try to escape from the Golden Hinde?
Escape From The Golden Hinde
St Mary Overie’s Dock
Nearest Station: London Bridge
Tickets: £43 per player