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Digital Subscriptions > History Revealed > January 2018 > Saving the Mary Rose

Saving the Mary Rose

Henry VIII’s favourite warship was raised from its grave in the Solent, and now gives us a fascinating picture of Tudor life. But how was she lost, and then reborn? Alice Barnes-Brown delves into the story
SINKING ON THE SOLENT The Cowdray Engraving (a copy of a 1540s painting) shows the Mary Rose just before sinking while Henry VIII, mounted on his horse, looks on

A blustery wind began blowing around Portsmouth Harbour on the afternoon of 19 July 1545, which was good news for Henry VIII’s fleet. Having been becalmed during preparations to attack the approaching French navy, crews took advantage of the breeze and sped towards the enemy. But then the luck changed. As the Mary Rose, one of the large warships leading the English fleet, turned so that she could fire her guns, the wind turned against her. Water poured in through her open gunports, and the ship quickly sank. In just a matter of minutes, nearly all of the crew had been lost to the unmerciful waves of the Solent.

Such was the tragic fate of the Mary Rose, the favourite of Henry. But more than four centuries later, she would once again see the light of day when the Mary Rose Trust miraculously raised her from the seabed in 1982. Now housed in a state-of-the-art museum in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, the preserved ship is on display for visitors as a time capsule of the Tudor era.

19k

The approximate number of artefacts recovered from the Mary Rose

HALF A HULL The intact cross section, or ‘doll’s house version’, of the ship, on display in Portsmouth
COURTESY OF THE MARY ROSE TRUST X2

PRIDE OF THE KING

When built, the Mary Rose was one of the largest ships of her time. Designed as a carrack from solid oak, she had four decks and ‘castles’ at either end, which were fighting stations and quarters of senior crew. The normal crew size was 400, but she could carry up to 700 in wartime. The Mary Rose must have been a spectacular sight on her first voyage in 1511 – Henry had spent a hefty sum on flags and banners alone.

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About History Revealed

Imagine, if you can, a mystery bug appearing out of nowhere – one with no cure or treatment and that kills nearly everyone infected in just a matter of days. !en consider one-in-three people in Britain being struck down by it over the course of two years. Unthinkable, isn’t it? And yet that’s exactly what happened halfway through the 14th century. Where did this killer plague, Black Death, come from? How did it spread? And what was it like to live through these unutterable days? We reveal all from page 28. But don’t worry, it’s not all doom and gloom to see in the new year, as we celebrate some of history’s greatest pioneers this issue, from the extraordinary salvagers of Henry VIII’s favourite ship, the Mary Rose (p46", to those magnificent men who took their flying machines into the skies (p56", to the remarkable women whose mathematical genius allowed the US to send men to the Moon (p69". We’ve also given the magazine a bit of a spring clean, taking all your comments on board, and introduced a few new regular features. I hope you like what we’ve done – do write in and let us know. Happy new Year!