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Mary Rose

Location

Hampshire Map

OS Ref: SU 628 006

Last Visited: 2016

The Mary Rose

The Mary Rose

In my 2005 article I dismissed the Mary Rose as "little more than a very large lump of wet wood; interesting if you watched with bated breath, as I did, the television coverage of when she was raised from depths of the Solent, but difficult to visualise as a real ship."

Now nearly dried out and presented in a smart designer museum complete with a son et lumière, things are better, but she's still difficult to visualise as a real ship.

The Mary Rose Museum

The Mary Rose Museum

At least now on the top floor of the museum you can go through some air-locks into the main hall and see her without intervening glass screens. Surprising what a difference that makes.

I can't help feeling that she'd be better presented lying on her side on a mock sea bed. As if you were a diver and, by some fluke, the waters of the Solent had become crystal clear.

Mary Rose

Mary Rose

The Mary Rose was built in Portsmouth for Henry VIII and launched in 1511. After serving successfully in the first and second French Wars she was kept in reserve until 1535 when she was refitted on the Thames. Extra gun ports may have been cut and heavier guns fitted at this time.

In July 1545 the French fleet entered the Solent intending to land troops and reclaim England for the Pope. It was on the second day of the battle that the Mary Rose sank. It is a matter of speculation whether this was due to human error, overloading, an unfortunate gust of wind or, as the French would have it, sunk by the enemy's guns.

Alexander McKee

Alexander McKee

Immediately after she sank there were several unsuccessful attempts to salvage her, but then she lay undisturbed until 1836 when she was discovered by pioneer divers John and Charles Deane who recovered several guns and other objects.

She was then lost again until she was rediscovered in 1971 by Alexander McKee and his team. From 1978 she was excavated by a team of archeologists led by Margaret Rule, and then in 1982 on live television as she was slowly brought to the surface by the giant floating crane Tog Mor. She was towed to Portsmouth and the long process of conservation began.