One of Henry VIII's
'great ships', Mary Rose was named after the king's favourite
sister Mary and the Tudor emblem the Rose. Typical of the larger
sailing ships of the fleet with high castles at the bow and
stern, she was one of the first ships with gun ports cut out
along the side of the hull for the firing of heavy guns.
Mary Rose had a long career and was frequently in battle against
the French. On 10 August 1512 she was part of an English force
that attacked the French fleet at Brest. Mary Rose crippled the
enemy flagship, bringing down her mast and causing 300
casualties. This was possibly the first battle in the Channel
when ships fired their heavy guns through gun ports.
The sinking of the Mary Rose is the event for which the ship is
best known. On 19 July 1545 Mary Rose was part of an English
fleet that sailed out of Portsmouth to engage the French. She
fired a broadside at the enemy and was turning to fire the other
broadside when water flooded into her open gun ports and the
ship suddenly capsized in full view of Henry VIII watching from
the shore. It is not certain what caused Mary Rose to capsize;
she was overloaded with extra soldiers and may have been caught
by a gust of wind, which made the ship heel over.
The wreck of the Mary Rose was rediscovered in 1968 and before
her recovery divers carried out much preparation work. On 11
October 1982 the hull was lifted off the seabed and placed on a
cradle before being raised by a giant floating crane. It was
then towed back into Portsmouth harbour from where the ship had
left on her last fateful journey 437 years before. Today the
Mary Rose is preserved in No.3 dock in Portsmouth.