For the Giles Group September meeting we were treated to a talk about the Mary Rose, and an entertaining hour from Trevor Sapey of the Mary Rose Trust, based in Portsmouth Dockyard.
Trevor explained that the Mary Rose was a well travelled ship, having cruised around the UK and Scotland for 34 years, before that fateful day in around 1544. The French fleet was a determined effort to strike a blow against Henry VIII, whose forces had acquired parts of France in an earlier raid in the opposite direction. So the force sent over was stronger than the later Armada sent by Phillip of Spain against Elizabeth. The ships raided the eastern side of the Isle of Wight, and were anchored off Bembridge. The British fleet, smaller than that of the French, sailed out of Southampton water into the middle of the Solent, but in the first action the Mary Rose changed course off Southsea, and with so many extra troops on board, and lower gunports open – with possibly an untrained crew consisting of many Spanish POWs – the ship turned turtle, and sank very fast.
Trevor was dressed in the clothes of a typical sailor of the time, a better than average sailor as he could afford a shirt! The slashes seen in jackets of those days were really to be able to show off the extent and quality of the shirt underneath! He also brought many artefacts modelled on what was found in the Mary Rose excavations, and explained the sometimes gory details about them. The ship was excavated purely by volunteer divers in the 1970s, and raised in the 1980s, after various gifts and external funding was raised. After years of washing and treatment and drying, the side of the ship raised will be seen from Christmas without the air ducts and other preservation pipe-work all round it.
The Portsmouth dockyard visitor centre includes the Mary Rose as one of the attractions included in the day ticket!