ZELLA COMPTON:The Mary Rose’s contents and people reach down the years

The Mary Rose's timbers
The Mary Rose's timbers
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In January this year I received the amazing news that the Arts Council was going to give me a grant to research and write a piece of theatre about the Mary Rose.

This grant is so exciting for many reasons, one of the first being that I cried several times when filling in the application form as it was so hard.

The second being that a few years ago I wrote and performed a piece about Henry VIII watching the Mary Rose sink from the walls of Southsea castle. And thirdly, the most important reason, because I love the Mary Rose.

I have loved that ship since her timbers broke the waters in 1982 and the world gasped as the cage holding her wobbled.

I, like every other schoolchild in Portsmouth, Hampshire and the UK who watched Blue Peter and Newsround, couldn’t get enough of the story, not least because I was travelling on the Gosport ferry every day and could witness the comings and goings and see the yellow frame, the crane, the boats and everything else.

And once she was out of the water? There was the delight of going to the first museum when she was being sprayed and you could see very little, then the other iterations of the museum over the years.

Now she’s finally revealed in all her glory, with all the paraphernalia which made up a Tudor warship. Thousands and thousands of artefacts.

Part of my project includes talking to people about what interests them, and I can’t get over the variety of responses and how individuals relate to the ship.

One woman told me about her joy at seeing the thimbles as she’s a quilter, while a man told me about the ends of shoelaces – telomeres – as he’s a scientist (it’s all to do with DNA not fraying).

As humans we look for connection within our lives and the Mary Rose’s contents and people reach down the years.

What’s also caught my attention is the number of people who come on holiday to Portsmouth and the area – and how much they enjoy coming here, and how they can’t believe how much there is to do.

Obviously I’m hoping all the people I talk to will be back to find out more about my project with the ship, or at least keep in touch with it online by searching Mary Rose Unbroken.


I came a little late to the dismembering, disembowelling party, but what a party Taboo was.

Perhaps party is the wrong word as it was a gross-out, grim eight hours of compelling, intricate, consuming, repulsive, clever drama which had me just as much hooked in with its moments of slow-burn as it did with its knife sequences.

Everything about this show had me wanting more, and I even stayed up after 10pm to watch the final episodes.

Catch it on catch-up before it’s too late.

My one warning? It’ll be hard to contain the need to rush out and buy a great coat which swirls magnificently, plus a hat to match.

I’ve got a distinct yearning to fashion myself a new look, but certainly not to live the life.


More the fool who accepts a dare’ sounds like it should be the start of a proverb, but it’s not.

It’s me simply saying that anyone who accepts a dare is a fool, especially if they live in Australia and that dare consists of jumping into crocodile-infested waters.


I can only imagine that there must have been copious amounts of alcohol involved. What other reason can there be when the inevitable happened?

The young man in question jumped straight into the jaws of a waiting croc and is now in hospital for treatment after having his arm ripped to shreds.

Obviously I wish him a speedy recovery – and hope he then shares with all the compelling reasons not to jump into dark, still waters.