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New museum gives close-up view of Henry VIII's Mary Rose warship

Story highlights

  • The Mary Rose, flagship of Henry VIII, was raised from the seabed in 1982
  • Visitors will now be able to see the ship and thousands of objects found with her
  • The warship sank in 1545 while leading an attack on a French invasion fleet
  • The 500-year-old wreck is still undergoing conservation work

A Tudor warship sunk off the English coast more than 400 years ago will go on display in a new museum Friday, along with thousands of artifacts recovered with the wreck.

The Mary Rose, which is still undergoing conservation work, is the only 16th century warship on display in the world, according to the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

The 500-year-old vessel was the flagship of King Henry VIII and sank in his view off the south coast near Portsmouth on July 19, 1545, while leading an attack against a French invasion fleet.

It remained there until it was raised from the seabed in 1982 to great fanfare.

Over the decades since, the wooden hull has been sprayed continuously, first with fresh water to remove salt and then with a wax solution, to prevent the timbers drying out and shrinking.

That spray was turned off last month to allow the next phase of conservation to be carried out, the dockyard said.

    While the ship is on display, it will be dried out in a specially constructed airtight glass chamber. More than 100 tons of water will be extracted from the hull over the next four to five years, conservationists say.

    Once that process is complete, the walls will be removed to give visitors an unimpeded view of the ship.

    The new Mary Rose Museum, built at the Portsmouth dockyard at a cost of £27 million ($40.7 million), also houses many of the 19,000 artifacts raised with the ship.

    Items on display include the skeleton of the ship's dog, wooden bowls, leather shoes, musical instruments and combs complete with 500-year-old head lice, as well as weapons such as longbows and metal cannon.

    Many of the ship's crew died when she went down.

    The raising of the ship and its preservation were landmarks in marine archeology, the dockyard says.