Mary Rose Museum celebrates its 1st anniversary

The Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth celebrates its 1st anniversary this week, but what do you know about King Henry VIII’s favourite ship?

Here is a painting by Geoff Hunt, of the Mary Rose in battle in the solent.
Painting of Mary Rose. © Geoff Hunt

Since its discovery in 1971, Mary Rose has enthralled us by giving up the secrets of Tudor naval history. The ship was described by historian Dr David Starkey as Great Britain’s answer to Pompeii, and as the Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth celebrates its 1st anniversary, we reveal 10 facts about King Henry VIII’s favourite ship and the award-winning museum itself…

Did you know?

1. Mary Rose did NOT sink on her maiden voyage, despite popular belief. She was in service for 34 years, and sank in 1545, following the Battle of the Solent.

2. Mary Rose was the first ship to be able to fire a broadside, marking a turning point in naval warfare. In addition to this the ship was also one of the last to have archers shooting longbows.

3. Historians still debate exactly what caused Mary Rose to sink. A survivor stated that the ship had fired her guns on one side and was turning to fire from the other side when the wind caught her and plunged her and her open gun ports below the water which sank her. Fewer than 35 survived.

4. The Anthony Roll tudor ship inventory of 1546 lists the 415 operational crew as 185 soldiers, 200 marines and 30 gunners, some as young as 10 years old.

5. The Mary Rose Museum contains one of the largest environmentally-controlled display cases in the world containing the mirror image of the starboard side of the hull.

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Mary Rose Museum, Portsmouth. © Charlie Ross

6. The Tudor navy was so advanced that a sailor from Mary Rose in the 16th century could easily have worked on HMS Victory 200 years later since much of the navigation and other technology between the two ships was largely the same.

7. Some of the objects coming from the ship are marked ‘H’ for Henry VIII, his property. The ship was the navy’s flagship, with the name believed to refer to the Tudor rose, emblem of Henry VIII’s house.

8. The new Mary Rose Museum is dedicated to those who lost their lives when Mary Rose sank. The excavation of Mary Rose is still the largest maritime excavation ever.

9. The museum is located close to where the Mary Rose was built over 500 years ago in Portsmouth. Discovered in 1971, almost 28,000 dives were carried out between 1979 and 1982, collecting over 19,000 artefacts. Among them were several ship’s guns, loaded and ready to fire.

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Mary Rose Museum, Portsmouth. © Charlie Ross

10. Divers at the Mary Rose wreckage site will install a new, specially-marked buoy to make the wreck site more visible following damage. The buoy will contain sophisticated technology to record changes on the sea floor to be transmitted back to land via satellite where scientists and marine conservators from the Mary Rose Museum will then monitor conditions of the wreckage.

To learn more about the Mary Rose Museum, visit the website at 

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