Having grown up in Portsmouth, one of our Great British Trips Directors remembers only too well the October day in 1982 in which he spent the day sat in his school hall watching the wrecked hull of the Mary Rose reach the ocean surface.
Along with 60 million other people world-wide, this groundbreaking salvage operation saw the favourite warship of Tudor King Henry VIII raised from the Solent sea bed off the coast of Portsmouth where she had remained since 19th July 1545. Although half of the famous ship's hull had long since decayed and disappeared, the other half had been covered up by the shifting sea bed and a hard grey clary had beautiffully preserved the ship's hull beneath the ocean floor. Along with over 19,000 incredibly artefacts which have also been recovered from the area, the hauntingly beautiful skeleton of a 16th Century war ship has thousands of stories to tell.
Although at the time of recovery it was believed that the wreck would need to be permanantly sprayed with water in order to prevent the further decay of the wood, an advancement in technology meant that the ship was sprayed with polyethylene glycol which will replace any water and prevent further decay.
Several years ago I first visited the Mary Rose museum. The ship's hull was viewed though a window in a dark and steamy room and in all honesty, it was rather disappointing! The museum was far from impressive and I actually enjoyed the museum which contained many of the artefacts found far more than the ship itself. I was recently invited to visit the new museum and in all honesty following my first visit my expectations were low! I am pleased to say though that I was in for a pleasant suprise.
The outside of the museum itself is impressive. Sat right next to the always enjoyable HMS Victory, this very modern building looks exactly like the hull of a ship. Some of the artefacts from the wreckage have been very cleverly arranged to tell the story of various characters on the ship, their roles and to describe what life was like. Displays are interactive, imaginative and really bring to life the entire Mary Rose story in a new and very real way.
There are a number of opportunities to see the ship itself. The viewing windows have been made bigger and the ship can now be seen from a variety of angles including a glass lift. The spraying has now stopped and the drying process has begun. Sadly this means that there are a number of pipes blocking the full view of the Mary Rose in all her glory but once the drying process is complete they will be removed.
Next to the ship's viewing windows artefacts such as cannons and ropes have been arranged and designed in such a way that it's now easy to imagine what the ship would have looked like. It's incredibly well thought through, well planned and it's clear that a huge amount of time and effort has been put into bringing this ship and her story to life. All in all this museum is well worth visiting and yet another reason to visit the thoroughly enjoyable Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.
By Ruth Lancey
Date: 2017-11-28 13:12:58