Last weekend we decided to get out of Dorset and visit somewhere new. It was absolutely freezing so we didn’t want to spend too much time outside and decided to visit The Mary Rose in Portsmouth.
You’ve probably heard of The Mary Rose, one of Henry VIII’s warships, but maybe like me, you don’t really know much more about it than that. If that’s the case, and you are near Portsmouth, then a visit to The Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard could make a good day out for the family.
We purchased our tickets online the day before visiting, and I’m so pleased we did because they were 40% cheaper than if we had bought on the day. We bought the family ticket (2 adults & 3 children was quite a bit cheaper than individual tickets for 2 adults and 1 child) for £22. You can use your family ticket an unlimited amount of times within 12 months of purchase.
Portsmouth is just over an hour’s drive from Poole and we found the Dockyard easily as it’s well signposted. The easiest parking is in the multi-storey carpark next door which cost us £5 for a few hours.
Tickets for The Mary Rose museum are separate to the tickets for Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, but you can wander through anyway and see all of the museums such as the National Museum of the Royal Navy, the Royal Navy Submarine Museum and Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower. The only thing you can’t enter is the HMS Victory but you can get a good look at that from the outside.
The Mary Rose
The Mary Rose museum is located at the end of the dockyard just a few minutes walk from the entrance, and is arranged over 3 floors. As you’d expect there is lots of information on display detailing the history of the ship as well as information of how and when it sank, when it was recovered, and plenty of interesting facts about the crew on board.
I was surprised to find out how long the ship was underwater and how recently it was recovered and brought to the museum.
As you walk through each gallery, you see the ship at various levels through floor to ceiling windows. On the rest of the floor are artefacts, screens and lots of interesting information.
There’s a fair bit to read, but at 7 years old Little H managed to read most of it herself and was very interested in it all. She enjoyed the touch screens where you can scroll through information about the artefacts found on board. There are also several games to play which were a lot of fun, including shooting cannons to capture enemy ships and working out how to feed the whole ship’s crew with just 4 items of food.
Little H loved looking at the personal possessions from the crew that were on display, from shoes and combs to coins and games – it’s amazing how much actually survived over 400 years underwater.
She was particularly interested in the skeletons and how experts made up reconstructions to work out what members of the crew may have looked like. She was also fascinated by the skeleton of the ship’s dog!
There are hands-on things to touch as you go around, including rope, cannon balls, tactile pictures, and you can even have a go on a bow and arrow which is actually much harder than it looks.
At the top, you’ll find the viewing deck where you can take a good look down at the recovered part of the ship – I think we were all amazed at just how big it was.
The museum was really interesting, I certainly learnt a lot of new things, and Little H wasn’t bored at all. The amount of work that has gone into salvaging and restoring both the ship and the artefacts is incredible, and the museum is well worth a visit.
I think we will go back to the dockyard to visit HMS Victory at some point so that we can take a look inside a ship that is still in one piece, and find out what it was like to be on board.
You can find out more about The Mary Rose Museum here and book your tickets.
Have you been to see The Mary Rose or Portsmouth Historic Dockyard?