The Mary Rose was one of the two warships that Henry VIII commissioned in 1510, after he came to the throne. The Mary Rose was of great significance at the time as ships were used as visible representations of royal power. She was modified during her 35 years of service which shows how ships were starting to evolve; for example the height of the deck was altered so that she was able to carry heavier guns. She would have been used both as a gun platform and for transporting troops in military campaigns.
The Mary Rose sank in 1545 during a skirmish with the French in the Solent but due to conflicting accounts it is not actually known why she sank. It sank with 500 crew aboard, of which only about 35 survived, and in full view of Henry VIII at Southsea Castle. The ship remained there, 14 metres below water, for 437 years. Over this time silt had sealed and preserved 19,000 artefacts which have been excavated and are on display in the Mary Rose Museum building. There were over 27,000 site dives between 1979-82 in their effort to retrieve items and examine the wreckage. Then in 1982 they were finally ready to raise the remains of the ship from the Solent.
This amazing museum, built around the wreckage, is filled with artefacts. They have helped to uncover what roles existed and what duties crew members would have had to carry out aboard the Mary Rose. The items range from war cannons and weapons to more personal items like leather shoes, musical instruments and even nit combs. You can also see how forensic facial reconstruction has been used on some crew skeletons, helping to bring their stories to life. The incredibly conserved ship itself has nine galleries providing panoramic views of the ship. In fact, the Mary Rose is the only 16th century warship on display in the world.
So go and discover what life aboard a 16th century warship would have been like and see what is left of Henry VIII’s favourite warship. For more information and opening times click here.