The children broke up from school this week which happily coincided with the reopening of the Mary Rose Museum, Portsmouth home of Henry VIII’s warship which sank in 1545.
After over 400 years under water, I remember the excitement when the Mary Rose was lifted from the Solent in the 1980s – and my slight disappointment at the pile of old driftwood that emerged (!).
For many years, the hull had been sprayed with water and preservative as part of the conservation programme. Then slowly dried in a ‘hotbox’ and now that process is complete, visitors can enjoy a completely unobstructed view of the hull for the first time in 471 years!
And it certainly has wow-factor!
It is absolutely amazing to see what remains of the hull in its totality (much more than I remembered and not a whiff of driftwood!). The darkened setting adds mystery, as do the clever projections of the crew and general on-board goings-on. And as you can see the ship from every floor of the musuem, it really helps make sense of everything.
The hull is amazing but the real stars are the crew, around 500 of whom sadly drowned that fateful day. Not much is known about specific individuals but years of meticulous research and clever interpretation of the crew’s belongings and bones bring the whole story to life from the viewpoint of the Master Carpenter (and his dog!), the Purser, the Surgeon, etc.
It is astonishing how much was salvaged from the wreck – long bows; wooden tankards; tiny dice; a sundial in a leather pouch; quill nibs; boots; syringes – thousands of artefacts. And it was fascinating to learn of every day life on board alongside the story of how the Mary Rose was found, how it was raised and how it is now preserved for future generations. Amazing!
It was quite a day – We checked out the Submarine Museum too for the first time (I could write another blog about that – also fantastic), the children practised climbing the rigging in Boathouse 4 and the America’s Cup was about to start!
Back in the office, some great progress by the team establishing a National Trust of Georgia, more discussions about governance, advocacy and communications, useful meeting with the Director of the Landmark Trust (wonderful model for a charity giving new life to historic buildings that are rented out as holiday homes) – lots going on!
Thanks for reading!