About the Mary Rose | The Mary Rose
About the Mary Rose

Some basic information about Henry VIII's favourite ship

(and no, it didn't sink first time out!)

The Mary Rose By Geoff Hunt
What was The Mary Rose?

The Mary Rose was a ship in Henry VIII’s navy, which he had built when he came to the throne in 1509. Construction began in 1510, and the ship was finally launched in 1511.

The Mary Rose would go on to fight in two wars against France, and one against Scotland. A full record of her exploits can be found at the link below.

The Sinking of the Mary Rose by Geoff Hunt
Why is the ship famous?

In 1545, the Mary Rose was part of a defensive fleet when a large French armada attacked the Isle of Wight, with the intent of invading England via Portsmouth. For reasons unknown the Mary Rose managed to capsize, taking her crew of around 500 to the bottom of the sea just a couple of miles from the coast of Portsmouth.

The ship is arguably more famous for the massive salvage operation in 1982, when she was returned to the surface on live television, an event seen by around 60 million people worldwide.


Then And Now
Then And Now
What does the Mary Rose look like?

After spending 437 years buried on the seabed, half of the Mary Rose's structure has been lost, eaten away by shipworm and other wood-eating marine creatures.

Although half of the ship is missing, this allows us to show the structure of the ship in a unique way, the ship itself providing a cutaway of a Tudor warship.

Because of this, visitors are unable to go onto the Mary Rose, but the experience of life onboard is recreated through the many thousands of objects recovered from the seabed.

Why is the Mary Rose important?

The Mary Rose is the only ship of her kind in existence anywhere in the world, and there is a lot that can be learned about ship construction in the time of Henry VIII.

More importantly, the objects found on board can tell us more about the lives of normal people, as alongside the guns and weapons we found personal items, such as clothing, bowls and tankards, even jewellery, musical instruments and nitcombs. Many of the objects found on the Mary Rose are unique, so they can tell us things about the past we never knew.

We also found the remains of the crew, which tell us even more about their lives, such as what they ate, what diseases and injuries they were susceptible to, and even where they come from. Recent work has shown that the crew were more cosmopolitan than we thought, coming from as far away as North Africa, so who knows what other secrets they can reveal about life in Tudor England?

Go deeper with the Mary Rose

Find out more about the story of the Mary Rose.

The Mary Rose: 1510-1545
The History of the Mary Rose

There’s a common misconception that the Mary Rose sank on her maiden voyage. 

In fact, she was a successful warship for Henry VIII  for 34 years: almost the entire duration of his reign.

The history of the Mary Rose
The loss of the Mary Rose
Why did the Mary Rose sink?

The only confirmed eyewitness account of the Mary Rose’s sinking says that she had fired all of her guns on one side and was turning when she was caught in a strong gust of wind. 

Other accounts agree that she was turning, but there could be a number of reasons why she sank during this manoeuvre.

Why did the Mary Rose sink?
Recovering the Mary Rose
Returning the Mary Rose to the surface

A huge team of divers, archaeologists and scientists was involved in raising the Mary Rose.

Amateurs and professionals alike were dedicated to the cause, and the project broke new ground in diving and conservation techniques.

Raising the Mary Rose
Bringing the Mary Rose back to life
Life on board the Mary Rose

From the artefacts and historical documents, we can piece together what kind of life the sailors may have had.

The Mary Rose offers us a unique glimpse into life in Tudor times.

Life on board
Reconstructing the Mary Rose
The Mary Rose Image Gallery

You can view a gallery of images of the Mary Rose, both as paintings of how she was in the 16th century, and as photographs of how she is today!

Image gallery
Thousands of objects recovered...
Artefact gallery

Over 19,000 objects were recovered from the seabed, see a selection of them in our artefact gallery.

Artefact gallery