When Henry VIII came to the throne in 1509 he inherited a fleet of ships that comprised the English navy. Knowing that both France and Scotland were hostile to England at the time Henry believed the key to English superiority was a strong naval force. He therefore began a programme of shipbuilding.
Work began on the Mary Rose in 1510 and she was launched in 1511. She saw her first action in 1512 when England was at war with France and was used as the Lord High Admiral’s flagship.
In 1536 the Mary Rose was re-fitted probably so that she could carry the bigger guns that were now available. Having made the break with Rome, England was quite isolated from the rest of Europe and although Charles V of Spain had talked of allying himself with England against France he made an alliance with France instead.
In 1545 the English navy were gathered at Portsmouth in readiness for an expected French attack. The first day of the Battle of the Solent passed without incident but on the second day, as she was sailing out of the Solent, the Mary Rose keeled over and sank. Attempts to rescue those on board were futile and out of a crew of about 400 men only 30 survived.
Tudor divers were unable to salvage the ship and it lay undisturbed on the bottom of the Solent until it was found by two divers in 1836. Several attempts were made to salvage artefacts from the ship but they were largely unsuccessful. In 1966 a project was set up to locate shipwrecks in the Solent and the ship was rediscovered in 1971. A law was passed in parliament declaring the wreck to be a national treasure and as such could not be looted or searched by bounty hunters.
From the time of its modern rediscovery it was clear that raising the ship was not going to be a straightforward task. Many organisations and groups were involved in the project and fund raising began in earnest. By early 1982 the method of raising the ship had been agreed and on 11th October 1982 the Mary Rose was brought to the surface. The Mary Rose is now housed in the Mary Rose Museum at Portsmouth. The museum is managed and funded by the Mary Rose Trust.