'˜More Tudor treasures still to come in Portsmouth' says Mary Rose boss
Fresh plans have been revealed to again explore the Solent in a bid to unearth more Tudor treasures hidden in its depths.
And Alan Lovell, chairman of the Mary Rose Appeal Committee, has revealed there are new plans in the pipeline to dig up more of the doomed vessel in a further recovery project.
The exact date of the scheme is under wraps.
But Mr Lovell hinted the intention was there to build on the success of the Mary Rose conservation project.
Speaking at the official reopening of the Mary Rose Museum, Mr Lovell said: ‘This is only the end of a chapter – the end of the beginning.
‘We are very proud of what we have here but there is much more to do.
‘We shall continue the great work on education and outreach which have been a focal point of the Mary Rose Trust from the early days.
‘Who knows, there just may be another dive at some point because there is still quite a lot down there and I know at some stage it would be lovely to get down there and have another go.
‘We are looking to the future and I feel that we have largely delivered that brave vision that was set by our founders and trustees of the Mary Rose Trust so long ago.’
Speaking to The News after the ceremony, Mr Lovell added there were plenty more artefacts on the seabed.
In 2003 it was feared the work to deepen the channel of the Solent for the navy’s new aircraft carriers would go straight through the wreck zone of the Mary Rose.
Mr Lovell said the navy paid for a digger to go in, which brought up the Tudor warship’s stem timber and other important pieces – some of which are due to be displayed in more detail soon.
But the navy had a change of direction and dredged a different part of the Solent, leaving the shipwreck untouched.
Conservationists covered up the site, which Mr Lovell now wants to explore once again.
‘There are certainly pieces of the bowcastle down there which, at some stage, it would be lovely to have another go for,’ he added.
‘We will be saving up for sure. It’s too good an opportunity and it’s great to have the prospect of that to look forward to.’
The Mary Rose Museum already has about 15,000 pieces which have been uncovered.
Large bay windows spread over three floors and the lifts give visitors the clearest-yet views of the Tudor warship.
There is also a new walkway which will allow people to be in the same space as the Mary Rose.
Among those at yesterday’s unveiling of the revamped museum was historian David Starkey.
Describing the site, he 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.’
She added: ‘Nowhere else in the world has a collection of Tudor artefacts and a ship like this and nowhere else in the world can you see the stories of life from so many different levels of society,
‘It’s unique and is one of the greatest archeological resources in the world. It’s England’s Pompeii.’
Sir Peter Luff, chairman of the Heritage Lottery Fund which granted £26m towards the project, said: ‘Quite simply, the Mary Rose is awe-inspiring.’