Welcome to the Great Cabin, an area for the officers and gentlemen. The officers aboard Drake’s Golden Hinde would have overseen the various tasks required of a 16th century crew, including sailing, maintenance, victualling and combat. Many would have needed to be literate and numerate, especially if they had a role in navigation or the measurement of gunpowder and shot. The officers were joined by around 10-12 well-to-do gentlemen adventurers, including an amateur botanist.
The Great Cabin housed a large table to be used for meetings, playing games and dining. When the Captain attended meals he would sit at the head of the table. The best supplies would be given to the officers and gentlemen, and their ration may well have included meat, wine, fruit and veg and even fresh sheep’s milk.
Despite their rank, their sleeping arrangements were very simple. It is possible that the space you are standing in would have been partitioned by canvas to provide some privacy, as likely twenty men would have slept here. For bedding, one option was to roll out straw mats on the floor, but this was often discouraged due to the risk of fire. Within a few years of Drake’s circumnavigation, ‘Hanging Beddes’ or ‘hammocks’ would become a mainstay on European ships.