THE curtain has finally dropped on Henry VIII’s flagship the Mary Rose which was today unveiled for the first time unobstructed by glass or the spray of conservation jets.
The hull was revealed at a special viewing at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard held on the 471st anniversary of the sinking of the Mary Rose in the Solent just outside Portsmouth Harbour in 1545, giving visitors a ‘stunning panoramic’ view.
After decades of hard work, this final part of the conservation jigsaw brings the Mary Rose back in to clear focus and spectacular contextSir Peter Luff, chairman of the Heritage Lottery Fund
Since it was raised in 1982, watched by 60m people worldwide live on television, the hull has been kept in highly protective surroundings, firstly with a fine spray of chilled water followed by a water-soluble wax until April 2013 - since when it was kept in a state of controlled air-drying.
But the completion of the drying and the removal of the glass screens is seen as the culmination of the £39m project to conserve the ship and produce an ‘awe-inspiring’ visitor experience to tell the story of the ship which went down with 500 men on board and only 35 surviving.
TV celebrity and historian David Starkey said: ‘For the first time we can actually see the Mary Rose. Up to this point from the moment it was brought up in the 1980s, it has been in a state of both being preserved and conserved and to do that it had to be covered by sprays, it had to be put in a huge bag like a condom and then it had to be dried.
‘And while of all that went on, there were obstacles between you, the visitor, and the ship.
‘Now all of that has been taken away and you can see the thing, it’s there, it’s a three-dimensional object.’
Helen Bonser-Wilton, chief executive of the Mary Rose Trust, said: ‘The story of the Mary Rose spans almost 500 years and this is a very exciting close to the latest chapter in her history.
‘Visitors will have stunning panoramic views of the ship from all nine galleries.
‘This is the culmination of decades of hard work by the Mary Rose team and we can’t wait to share this stunning new experience with everyone.”
Sir Peter Luff, chairman of the Heritage Lottery Fund which granted £26m towards the project, said: ‘Quite simply, the Mary Rose is awe-inspiring.
‘After decades of hard work, this final part of the conservation jigsaw brings the Mary Rose back in to clear focus and spectacular context.’
The Mary Rose Museum will re-open to the public on tomorrow morning from 10am.