The Mary Rose

WhereGreat Broughton Village HallType of EventIllustratedTalk
WhenMonday 24th March.TutorPeter Lansdown

Peter Lansdown a retired Royal Naval Officer presented the story of the ‘Mary Rose’, her history and recovery. Peter had been giving this talk for over thirty years beginning by request in Australia. His presentation began with some slides of similarly historic vessels, both restored and replicated, including Cabot’s ‘Matthew’ through to the ‘Aurora’ which played its part in the Russian revolution.

Back to the Mary Rose, Peter gave its original dimensions as 180 ft overall length, 34 ft beam and 16 ft draft. She carried 3,400 sq ft of sail and at the time of her capsize she had 700 people on board, a gross overload which Peter believes largely contributed to her loss. Only 36 sailors survived the sinking.

She was named after Henry VIII’s sister and was the first vessel built specifically for war. Peter explained the nature of gun construction and the need for precision in their manufacture. A slide of the only known picture of the vessel was displayed from the Anthony Anthony roll which also gave a full inventory of the ship’s possessions.

The French Armada which entered the Solent and landed on the Isle of Wight was the instigator of a naval engagement which led to the loss of the Mary Rose.  

Alexander McKie was a historian who developed an abiding interest in the Mary Rose engendered by his discovery of a gold ring close to her final resting place in the estuary and he was a moving force in her rediscovery and the salvage of a large part of this historic vessel. The subsequent proposal to build two new aircraft carriers necessitating the dredging of a new channel enabled further surveying of the site to to take place. Even though the planned carriers were down-sized enough to not require the dredging, the excavations had already exposed timbers and were completed in 2005. Among the most important finds was the ten-metre (32 feet) stem, the forward continuation of the keel, which provided more exact details about the original profile of the ship. 

Peter showed slides of a number of artefacts which had been discovered as part of the process from tableware through to a comb with its attendant head louse! He explained the detailed conservation process now in its latter stages which included many months of spraying with distilled water followed by the application of polyethylene glycol into the timbers. The museum is situated on almost the exact spot where the ship was built but Peter pointed out that as this is almost at present sea level it may prove to be an unwisely low position if sea levels continue to rise.

 There was a lively question and answer session to follow and the 60 plus in attendance expressed their appreciation in the usual fashion!

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