Tangible history in my hands at the Mary Rose Museum

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I liked the chairs to take with you in case you fancy a sit down

Perhaps it’s just me, but I suspect not. The world over, locals are too cool to act like tourists. But sometimes, being a tourist on your home turf is wonderful.

I am attached to the Mary Rose in principle as I remember when she was drawn from the Solent’s murky waters the excitement that rippled across the country. At the time I was catching the ferry to school every day.

Of course, I have viewed her in the intervening years. So how was it? There were many aspects I liked.

For example, the massive blown-up interactive Cowdray picture from the time which shows how it all went down (literally – the bodies floating around Mary Rose’s mast tops are my favourite). I love this picture as I used it as inspiration for a piece I wrote about Henry VIII. What was also interesting was that it shows Gosport having a cliff edge. Intriguing.

I liked the chairs to take with you in case you fancy a sit down and I like the relatively brief signage. I wasn’t so keen on the number of people trying to read the brief signs.

But the best bit was the touching table, where I could hold items recovered from the seabed – tangible history in my hands.

It must be quite a task to curate so many wonderful – and sad (skeletons/skulls) items.

The museum has themed the cabins: surgeon, gunner, carpenter etc. What I did notice though and found equally interesting and perplexing was the addition of the curators to most pieces of information. ‘We found this’ and similar ‘we’ sentences were everywhere. It was like the discovery team were right there with me. I’m not sure if this was deliberate or the museum has yet to separate its amazing archaeological process from the amazing history on offer.

It doesn’t matter anyway. It’s a great place to visit and stinks of history, connecting us all through what was hidden in the water for all those years. Well worth a visit, but go early, or late, or some secret time to avoid the crowds.