Paddington and Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville visits the Mary Rose Museum as it competes for £10K National Lottery Awards heritage prize

FOR six years it has boasted panoramic views of King Henry VIII’s favourite warship.

Wednesday, 24th July 2019, 12:44 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th July 2019, 3:34 pm
Mary Rose Museum chief executive Helen Bonser-Wilton and actor Hugh Bonneville. Picture: Ross Young Photography

Now the Mary Rose Museum bid to be named the best-ever National Lottery-funded heritage project has won big backing.

Famed for roles in Downton Abbey and Paddington, actor Hugh Bonneville visited the attraction in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard today to lead its rallying call for public votes in the National Lottery Awards marking its 25th anniversary.

‘I remember watching it come up in 1982 when I was a student – sitting there with my Pot Noodles at university – and I was transfixed by this remarkable feat of British pluck and mad endeavour to bring up this hull from the Solent,' he said. 

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Mary Rose Museum chief executive Helen Bonser-Wilton and actor Hugh Bonneville. Picture: Ross Young Photography

‘I’ve watched it in its soggy form as it was doused with water over decades as the preservation process took shape.

‘Then, what really brought it to the next level was when the National Lottery gave it an award in 2008 so the magnificent hall you see now was built.’ 

He added: ‘I think voting for the Mary Rose is a no-brainer to anyone who lives in the south.’ 

The museum was launched in May 2013 at a cost of £35m, of which £23m came from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Actor Hugh Bonneville urges members of the public to vote for the Mary Rose Museum in the National Lottery Awards. Picture: Ross Young Photography

The lottery’s contribution has since surpassed £30m, aiding the 2016 renovation of the attraction's upper galleries. 

Helen Bonser-Wilton, chief executive of the Mary Rose, said the lottery’s funding has been ‘catalytic’ in the museum's history. 

‘Quite simply, without the National Lottery and lottery players this museum would not be here,' she said. 

‘Its aim is to bring transformational change to heritage, well, you could not get much more of a transformation than the Mary Rose going from her tent, and being sprayed, to a world-class museum that entrances everyone who comes.' 

The Mary Rose was raised from the Solent in 1982, 437 years after it sank during conflict with France. 

It is in the final 10 projects of the National Lottery Awards’ heritage category and will get £10,000 and a trophy if it wins. 

A ceremony on BBC One in November will conclude the contest. 

To vote for The Mary Rose go to lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/awards or tweet the hashtag #NLAMaryRose before August 21.