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  • Writer's pictureWendy Percival

Ghost ship

You can actually smell the Mary Rose! When you pass through the air-lock on the top floor of the Mary Rose Museum into the same chamber as the ship's timbers down below, you become aware of a faint musty odour. It's really atmospheric.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I was looking forward to visiting Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and The Mary Rose Museum and I wasn't disappointed. It was amazing!

Genius design

Whoever came up with the vision of the museum was a genius. The ship is housed in a huge chamber and you view it through a glass wall as you walk along each of the three floor levels from one end to the other, where cabinets display items excavated from the shipwreck site. What I particularly loved was the way the floor of each level mimicked the slope on the deck of the ship.

Through the glass wall to your right is the remains of the ship itself down below you. To your left are some of the artefacts the team found on site, set up as they would have been on the ship. In effect you - the visitor - are the filling in a Mary Rose sandwich!

The hours of research, sifting through each discovered piece, from the largest canon to the smallest backgammon piece, buried in the silt of the ship's resting place since 1545, is mind blowing.

Family history

As a family historian, I was fascinated by what they'd discovered about individuals on the ship - e.g. the master gunner, the ship's carpenter, the cook - the identity of each (by trade, sadly not by name) was established because of where in the ship their skeleton was found. Those clever people who do facial reconstruction had been to work on the skulls, creating images of what these people may have looked like.

It's difficult to take everything in as there's so much to see of what was so well preserved in the silt - coins, tankards, pewter plates, items of clothing, shoes, wooden tools, canon balls, furniture, pens, combs... even a leather notebook.

Then there are the audio-visual treats too which are brilliant... I could go on but I'd never do it justice, as you'll know if you've visited yourself. And if you haven't visited yet, I can recommend putting it on your bucket list!

Watch the TV documentary

I mentioned my visit on Twitter and the Mary Rose Museum tweeted to tell me about a Channel 4 documentary which had traced the family of the ship's captain. I'm off to watch it and if you're in the UK, you can follow the link and watch it too.



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