After a six-month closure and a multi-million pound investment, the Mary Rose Trust
today unveiled to the world the Mary Rose, Henry VIIIs favourite warship, 471 years to the day after it was sunk. The ceremony held at the ships home, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, included a spectacular kabuki drop, revealing the ship after having undergone 23 years of extensive treatment, including state-of-the-art innovations, which has changed the face of conservation.
Revealed for the first time ever was a carved wooden Tudor rose, which was discovered at the time of the second excavation in 2005 but only recently identified as the original emblem of the ship, and the first figurehead of its kind, as depicted in 16th-century drawings in the Anthony Scroll.
Also revealed was a new CGI display of projected, reconstructed scenes from life on the ship, performed by museum staff. The scenes were created using information and artifacts uncovered during excavation and are an innovative way of story telling for museums and historical sites. There has been a lot of high-profile support for this stage of the ships development: Damian Lewis, who memorably portrayed Henry VIII in the BBCs Wolf Hall, voiced the parts of the introduction to the new look Mary Rose, as did actor Robert Hardy CBE, who was one of the experts consulted by the team responsible for the raising of the Mary Rose. Hardy developed an interest in medieval warfare while playing Henry V and became a leading world expert on the longbow, publishing Longbow: A Social and Military History and The Great Warbow; From Hastings to the Mary Rose (with Matthew Strickand.) The ship held in it a total of 179 Longbows, the largest number of Longbows ever discovered in one site. Historian and television presenter, David Starkey and well-know TV broadcaster, Dan Snow had also leant their support.
For the first time in 23 years visitors can breathe the same air as the Mary Rose. The Mary Rose Museum provides stunning panoramic views of the ship from all nine galleries through floor-to-ceiling glazing on the lower and main decks. On the upper deck visitors enter the Weston Ship Hall via an airlock and are separated from the ship only by a glass balcony. They were treated to a spectacular and new visual way of telling her unique story.
A one-of-a-kind Tudor time capsule, the Mary Rose has been undergoing continuous conservation since she was raised in 1982. The hull was first sprayed with a mist of fresh chilled water and then with a water-soluble wax from 1994 to April 2013 when the Mary Rose entered a stage of controlled air-drying. The hull has now reached a stable state within this drying process, which means all the black drying ducts (as shown below), which provided the environment and conditions around the ship, have been removed giving a completely clear and uninterrupted view.
David Starkey, TV personality and historian: The Mary Rose is a time capsule, the whole world of that day when she both sank and thanks to an accident of preservation and a miracle of conservation, both died and lived for ever. She is the English Herculaneum, Pompeii, the Tomb of Tutankhamun all rolled into one and she is much more exciting than the lot of them.