This article is about the 500 Year Old battleship of Henry VIII that sunk 500 years ago off the coast of England. It was discovered in 1971 and raised in the 1980s. After 30 years of work it was finally ready to be viewed by the public from 31 May 2013.
Watch the video I made of Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, the key ships on display and the Mary Rose Museum – where I take you on a tour of the museum (before it was even open to the public):
Portsmouth, on the south coast of the UK has been the home of the Royal Navy for centuries. The Portsmouth Historic Dockyard welcomes visitors, while still being an operating base for two-thirds of the Navy.
HMS Warrior 1860 is 1 of 3 historical battle ships docked here, and open to be toured. This majestic steel Victorian battle ship was the very first to be powered by steam, as well as sails.
Though the better known ship to tour is HMS Victory. Famously commanded by Vice Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson, who was wounded and died on-board during the Battle of Trafalgar, it led a fleet of 27 ships that defeated the combined French and Spanish navy in 1805 off the coast of Spain. Over 800 men lived, worked and fought on this battleship. It is actually still in commission and is the official flagship of the First Sea Lord.
Inside a building next to the HMS Victory is the 3rd and most recent battleship addition to the dockyard. Hidden in darkness inside the building are the remains of the 500 year old Mary Rose. Henry XIII’s flagship battleship sank in a battle off the coast in 1545. Located in 1972, it was raised in 1982 & open to public view in 2013.
On 15 July 1545, Henry XIII watched from land as his flagship led the attack against an invading French Fleet in the Battle of the Solent. Today his waxwork watches this huge screen telling the story of the battle. On-board the Mary Rose were almost 500 men. After firing her cannons, the ship turned, keeled to one side, filled with water and sunk fast. Only 30 people survived.
Travelling up in a glass sided elevator, you can see the half of the ship that survived 500 years submerged in silt at the bottom of the sea. The large ship is now cased inside a massive glass case. For 30 years it was sprayed constantly with water to preserve it. Since May 2013, the process of drying it out began. It will take at least 5 years. Half of the museum is this vast glass case where at different levels and angles you can view the remains of this battleship. It is an eiree and compelling sight.
Opposite the wreck is a mirror image of the ship. Here the actual cannons found buried with the ship have been placed and lined up with where they would have been on the decks opposite.
The rest of the museum explores the preservation and thousands of artifacts found with the ship.
Different members of the crew have been recreated. This was achieved using the skeletons, bones and skulls found with the ship.
There are a series of sections, like one for example of the Master Carpenter, showing what they probably looked like, what they did, their personal and professional effects. The carpenter’s section even includes the skeleton of his pet dog on-board that drowned caught in a sliding door when the ship sunk.
19,000 items were recovered with the ship. It has been described as being an “English Pompeii preserved by water” as it froze history in time, revealing so much about life 500 years ago. Most of the items recovered are on display through the museum.
The gift shop at the end of the tour is also packed with gifts, food, and models to help fund the museum. Most of the museum and preservation has been funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. It is a moving and remarkable museum. Highly recommended.
For more visit the official website: http://www.historicdockyard.co.uk
See all my photos I took at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard: click here
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