Essential Wessex: The Mary Rose

The Mary Rose was a man-o-war in Henry VIII’s navy, built in Portsmouth in 1510 and launched the following year. Henry was preparing for war against France, and the building of the Mary Rose and her sister ship, the Peter Pomegranate, arguably laid the foundations for the birth of the Royal Navy as we know it.

The Admiral of the Fleet, Edward Howard, chose the Mary Rose, rather than the larger Regent as his flagship. This gave him the element of surprise at the Battle of St Mathieu in 1512. The French were not expecting the English to arrive for several more days, and the Mary Rose was able to catch them unawares, crippling their flagship the Grande Louise.

The ship saw many more years of distinguished service before being sunk off the Isle of Wight in 1545. The exact reasons for her loss were unknown, but it is thought that bad weather hastened her demise.

The story does not end there, however. The wreck of the Mary Rose was raised in 1982, and today sits in a dedicated museum located in Portsmouth’s historic dockyard. Find out more at their website.

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