"..a bardy view!"

The Mary Rose, HMS Victory and the Fighting Temeraire…..

The news that the Mary Rose is going to be mothballed for three years whilst awaiting a new home brought my own memories back when I went to see her earlier in the decade.


It was a trip to Portsmouth and a tour of the historic Royal Naval dockyard which brought me upon her.

Not far from HMS Victory, the Mary Rose is situated in a protective environment, where the temperature is strictly regulated together with a constant spray of water and chemicals to prevent her wood from drying out. Visitors can only view her through thick glass.

It was an amazing feat of human and technological endurance over 20 years which finally lifted her from the briny depths.

Moving her to a new home will be equally challenging. Three years is a long time, but if it will ensure the survival of Henry VIII's flagship then it will be well worth it, regardless of the cost at £35m.

I also enjoyed visiting HMS Victory. One of the guides remarked to me that almost nothing original is left of the vessel, having been restored so many times. Considering the ships age, it would be churlish to labour the point.

Improvisation is the key, but that doesn't detract from the sense of claustrophobia and harsh conditions which the sailors must have endured.


From the orlop deck in the ship's bowels where the surgeons carried out their grim trade, to the gun decks where the confined spaces restricted the crews ability to stand upright,and up to the foc'sle, the atmosphere is still palpable and little imagination is required to sense the chaos of battle and smell of cordite.

Signs indicate where Nelson fell and later died below decks.The surgeon William Beatty refused to operate on him as it would precipitate certain death early in the battle, and consequently Nelson hung on in extreme agony solely to maintain morale until the battle was over.

Thanks to HMS Temeraire, who came to Victory's support, the Battle of Trafalgar was won and ensured British maritime supremacy for another 130 years.

Nelson's body was placed in a vat of brandy to preserve it during the long journey home. Finally he was laid to rest in St. Paul's Cathedral.

As for the Temeraire, she has since become an image of faded glory. The artist Turner painted her as she was being hauled for scrap.


The mighty sailing ship, no longer wanted in an age of steam, is portrayed being tugged to the breakers yard as the sun sets behind her. It's an evocative image which Turner captured brilliantly.

"The Fighting Temeraire" is rightly regarded as one of the greatest paintings of the Nineteenth century by one of the greatest exponents of the art.

Anyone wanting to see the Mary Rose should do so before September 25th. Otherwise it will be late 2012 before she resurfaces. Victory is on permanent display, but if you want to see the "Fighting Temeraire", then I suggest you buy a print and hang it on your wall!


September 20, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , ,

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