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The Mary Rose Artifacts: Tudor Manbag, Compact Mirror To Be Displayed In Britain

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The sole known image of the Mary Rose, depicted in the Anthony Roll

The sole known image of the Mary Rose, depicted in the Anthony Roll

Reuters/Georgina Cooper—Curators of King Henry VIII‘s flagship the Mary Rose, a Tudor time capsule likened to a British Pompeii, have revealed thousands of artefacts never before seen by the public, including a nit comb complete with nits from 1545 when the vessel sank.

The fabled warship went down in the Solent off England’s southern coast during an engagement with the French fleet, with the loss of more than 400 crew.

The sinking is thought to have been an accident, but exactly what happened has vexed historians for years.

The vessel was spectacularly raised from its watery grave in front of a global audience of some 60 million in 1982.

What remains of the hull has been on display behind glass ever since, but the thousands of personal items found in the wreckage have been hidden from public view due to lack of a suitable space to show them.
A Tudor manbag

A Tudor manbag


The artifacts include a well preserved leather “manbag” complete with compact mirror and cut-throat razor — the height of Tudor fashion, a giant 4 foot long wooden spoon used to stir the crew’s porridge pot and 70 nit combs, some even holding dead nits.

The Mary Rose Trust displayed the items to reporters to launch a cash appeal for a 35 million pound ($55 million) hi-tech museum, scheduled to open in 2012, in which all the objects will be on show.

Nowhere else in the world is a single moment in Tudor life captured as it is with the Mary Rose,” said Rear Admiral John Lippiett, Chief Executive of the Mary Rose Trust.

Also recovered was a violin and its bow — which the trust says is Europe’s oldest example — along with blood-letting bowls, canon balls and Tudor tankards.
Rat bones

Rat bones


It gives us window into a period in time where we have very little organic survival but here we have wonderful very personal mundane objects that would have been thrown out,” curator Alexandra Hildred told the BBC.

We’ve even got rat bones from the rats that didn’t leave the sinking ship,” she said.

The new museum will house all of the 19,000 Mary Rose artifacts. Its designers say it will resemble a finely crafted wooden jewelry box, clad in timber planks invoking the original ship.

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Life Aboard the Mary Rose Re-enactment

The story of the Tudor warship the Mary Rose, complete with re-enactments of what conditions were like on board, plus information about the historical finds yielded after its sunken remains were excavated and raised: almost half of the many finds excavated have now been either restored or conserved; it is a true example of a time capsule as many of the artifacts would not have survived anywhere else; a number of dice and coins were found indicating that gambling was a popular pastime for the crew; the longbows recovered are probably the only surviving examples of the weaponry used to such devastating effect against the French in many of the battles of the time; animal bones excavated from the wreck suggest the food consumed by the crew – beef, pork, fish and venison were all eaten; a gallon of watered-down beer per day was given to each crew member; the officers had music as an extra with their meals.

The History of the Mary Rose

Artists impression of the Mary Rose

Artists impression of the Mary Rose

The Mary Rose was one of the first ships built during the early years of the reign of King Henry VIII, probably in Portsmouth. She served as Flagship during Henry’s First French War and was substantially refitted and rebuilt during her 36 year long life. The Mary Rose sank in 1545 whilst defending Portsmouth from the largest invasion fleet ever known, estimated at
King Henry VIII

King Henry VIII

between 30,000 and 50,000 individuals and between 150 and 200 vessels. This number is nearly twice the number estimated within the fleet of 1588, latterly known as the Spanish Armada. At this time Mary Rose was the second largest and most heavily armed vessel within the fleet; she carried 91 guns deployed over three decks, her main gun deck carried fourteen large guns including two cannons which fired 64lb cast iron shot. The Mary Rose marks a transition between the use of a vessel to support guns and a vessel built to carry large guns close to the waterline, her structure is undocumented in historical sources and there are no shipwright’s plans. The Mary Rose is an extremely important vessel to study in order to understand the evolution of the fighting ship.

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