The Widecombe-in-the-Moor Website
Widecombe History Group Talk
The History of The MARY ROSE was the subject of a talk given by Dr Peter Marsden, a Maritime Archaeologist.
This was the story of how The Mary Rose was found, recorded, salvaged from the waters off The Solent, cleaned and restored and now on exhibition at Portsmouth.
Peter who is a professional Maritime Archaeologist has been fascinated by the story of The Mary Rose for years. The ship is recorded as having sunk in 1545, during a skirmish with the French, when they tried to invade Britain. He began by showing an example of early pottery found on the ship, and went on to explain how and why this disaster happened in great detail. At least TEN years of research has gone into this project. The Mary Rose was built in the period 1510 - 1512 and entered into service in 1512. Its history is tied in with King Henry VIII, the French, Spanish and a very interesting statement that a man known as Saleiman - an image believed to be of him can be found in the church of Buckland in the Moor.
Henry VIII captured Boulogne in1544, as a result of this the French decided to teach the English a lesson. On 19th July 1545 they launched an attack and landed some men on the Isle of Wight. The raid was unsuccessful and they sailed on and met the English Fleet who were waiting for them. Captain of the M. R. was Sir George Carew, and an interesting contemporary picture of the boat, the only one in existence we believe, was shown to the meeting. The King had made the boat take on board extra armoury which proved to be the down fall on the encounter.
The gun ports were quite close to the water line and with the extra weight, sat too deep in the water. The M. R. had to make a turn and a flash wave caused by a sudden gust of wind flooded into the gun ports as the hatches had not been closed. This caused the ship to flood immediately and it sank with a great loss of life.
In 1971 it was discovered in the Solent, and after years of hard work excavating the site, it was finally raised in 1982.
It had to be carefully cleaned and preserved. Sprayed with clean water to remove the salt water from the wooden hulk, and oil used to preserved the exposed wood.
The archaeology has uncovered a wealth of knowledge and artefacts. The story has gradually been unravelled and the story unfolds.
Four books on the M. R. have been written (a) the story, (b) the ship, (c) the weaponry, & (d) the people.
The guns are thought to be able to fire up to 300 yards, and the ship had visited Plymouth, Dartmouth and other south coast ports. It had four masts
The excavation found that most of the crew died at their posts in situ. and by examining them, the skeletons, the remains of their clothes, their personal possessions coins, and personal effects, Peter and his team have been able to interpret so much of what happened on that fateful day.
The remains of the cooks were still in the galley, drowned as they worked, it has been possible to work out the actual jobs of the men . An example was a Boson who was found with his silver whistle still around his neck and attempts to rebuild the features of his face appears to have been very successful. Another quite amazing research project has shown that 50% of those on board were of Southern European origin, could they be migrants ? This was emphasised by the number of rosaries and even prayer books found in situ showing a Catholic influence.
We must remember the religious turmoil of the time, with Henry VIII and his attempts to reduce the catholic influence in England. Then the remains of food were examined. Some of it was rotten. Rats were on board. However the remains of a dog, reconstructing its skeleton has been done. Masses of ropes and netting, this was strung around the boat to stop boarding parties getting on board.
The galley produced cooking pots, pewter tableware, some of which had G. C. Stamped on it (Sir George Carew's personal property). Clothing has told them a lot, some elaborate leather goods.
The amount of artefacts, clothing, tools, personal effects, the human remains and the state of some of them has all contributed to the understanding of what happened that fateful day when The Mary Rose sank. The research is proving fascinating. Why did it happen? Was it due to Henry's insistence on extra armoury causing the boat to be less stable? NO official enquiry was held at the time - WHY - could it have implemented his fatal intervention - we will never know. By 1550 a new style of ship was being built. Not so top heavy. By 1588 and the Armada, our smaller ships out manoeuvred the Spanish galleons. These better boats led to Sir Frances Drake doing his 'round the world' trip 1577-80. The legacy of the Mary Rose and the subsequent new ships, led to the opening up of trade all over the world, bringing spices, silks and porcelain to the western world. Coinage was mentioned and a couple of Spanish 'pieces of eight' were shown to us. At Portsmouth visitors can see The Mary Rose, The Victory & The Warrior. Somewhere to visit and be enthralled by the history, and the achievement in raising this historical relic, and have a good look around the museum there, which has cost £35million to build and interpret a very important period of our history.
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