Mary Rose Museum------ The Only Surviving 16th Century Tudor Warship
On 11 September 2010 I visited Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. First I was on aboard of HMS Warrior 1860, then I popped over to Mary Rose Museum.
Brief history about Mary Rose:
The Mary Rose was built between 1509 and 511 and one of the first ships able to fire a broadside. It was a firm favourite of King Henry VIII and he almost certainly paid for it from his private purses. The ship is said to be named after Mary his favourite sister and Rose after the Tudor emblem, although there may also be a religious connections. Henry VIII witnessed the tragic sinking of Mary Rose in July 1545 when it was in battle against the French. After the battle Henry VIII tried to recover the ship, but failed. Time moved on, and technology improved. In October 1982 the worlds largest water excavation began after it was raised to the surface.
What did I see at Mary Rose Museum:
Entering the Museum first you will see a life-size statue of Henry VIII and read a brief information about him and his ship of Mary Rose. Henry VIII was born in Greenwich in 1491 and became King in 1509 when he was 18 years old. During his life he was married six times. The first wife was divorced, the second one is Anne Boleyn who was beheaded, the third one was died, the fourth was divorced, the fifth was beheaded and the sixth was survived. In 1547 Henry VIII died at the age of 55 and buried in St, George’s Chapel, Winsor Castle.
Mary Rose Museum contains 20,000 artefacts found in the wreck. Those show the life in the Tudor period, particularly the nautical life in warships. There are interesting articles in the museum about these various artefacts, such as tools, guns, woods, etc. A dog’s skeleton was particularly impressive to me. The Mary Rose dog may have been a Manchester Terrier, or Black and Tan Terrier as it was originally known. This breed dates back to the 1400s and is said to be the oldest English Terrier. Another interesting area is the replica of the Barber Surgeons Cabin. There is a sound above to mimic his talk with people. Also opposite the Cabin there is a cabinet containing the tools used by him, such as razor, medical jars, syringes, etc. Next to the cabinet there is a big area displaying the weapons in Mary Rose ship. There is a short film telling you how to fire the guns. Personally I found it interesting and educational. To be honest I was not very sure how the guns worked before seeing the film. You can also try to handle some weapons and try on an armour that is meant for the kids, but quite heavy. Last but not least don’t forget to watch the story of raising Mary Rose and how Mary Rose sank in an audio visual theatre next to the reception.
The only imperfect thing is you can’t see the wreck of Mary Rose at your visit. Before visitors were available to see Mary Rose from a viewing gallery. Now it’s temporarily closed from public view, as part of the £35 million project to build a new state-of-the-art combined ship hall and museum by the Mary Rose Trust. Luckily you can see a shining model of Mary Rose at the centre of the Mary Rose Museum.
The Mary Rose Museum is at No 5 Boathouse and is just at the right side of Victory Gate, the main entrance of Portsmouth Historic Dockyard . There is a life-size statue of Henry VIII outside too, so it’s hard to miss. A ticket will need to be purchased from the Dockyard Visitor Centre. You can buy a single attraction ticket or all inclusive ticket that provides you one entry to the Mary Rose Museum. There is a shop at the exit of the Mary Rose Museum where you can buy souvenirs connecting with Tudor period and Portsmouth.
Although I have visited many museums in the UK, I still consider The Mary Rose Museum is one of the best museums the country has. Not only can you have a chance to know the Mary Rose ship, you can also know more Tudor life. There are many displays about the King Henry VIII, Henry VIII wives and Henry VIII sisters. It’s kind of Henry VIII exhibition I think. So if you do visit Portsmouth Historic Dockyard don’t overlook the Mary Rose Museum.