22 November 2017

Helen Bonser-Wilton - Mary Rose - From Seabed to Showcase, the Making of a British Icon

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London, UK

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Mary Rose is a true British icon.  The flagship of Henry VIII, she sailed throughout his reign and saw him through five and a half wives, before sinking dramatically while fighting off an attempted French invasion of Portsmouth in 1545.   Sunk in the Solent, the wreck and her contents were protected by layers of silt, ensuring that the ship and artefacts were remarkably well preserved.  The wreck of Mary Rose and the artefacts were carefully excavated and raised between 1979 & 1982 and are now displayed in a purpose built museum in Portsmouth.  

Public connection to Mary Rose has always been strong, as Henry VIII’s favourite ship and because of the quality & volume of her collection.  This ranges from weapons to everyday working tools, games & instruments to shoes, rosaries & even the skeleton of the ship’s dog.  These give a unique insight into life at all levels of society in Tudor times.

But how did we get Mary Rose from Seabed to Showcase?  How did we use the latest scientific techniques to determine what conservation treatments would preserve the ship and artefacts for future generations?  How did we use sports science and DNA analysis to discover and tell the personal stories of the men who perished so tragically on that dramatic day?

Helen Bonser-Wilton, Chief Executive of Mary Rose Trust will take you on a fascinating journey through the history of Mary Rose and the dramatic story of her discovery, raising and display.  It is a story of human endeavour, passion, tenacity and determination to achieve a huge vision against the odds. 

Sail into the wonderful Tudor world of Mary Rose.


Day 1 - 22 November 2017

Lecture starts
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Venue and Contact


14/15 Belgrave Square 

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Tel: +44 (0)20 7598 1561

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Additional Info

About the Speaker

Helen Bonser-Wilton is the Chief Executive of Mary Rose in Portsmouth.  Helen studied at Bradford University and qualified as an Interpreter and Translator before moving into the world of advertising.  Moving into Marketing, she was Group Brand Manager for Crown Paints, and Group Marketing Manager for Bernstein Kitchens, before relocating down to Devon to work for the National Trust.  Helen spent 12 years at the NT, working as Marketing and Supporter Development Manager in Devon and Cornwall, Programme Director at Tyntesfield, near Bristol, Director of Operations in the South West and Change Programme Director at National Trust Head Office.

Helen joined Mary Rose Trust in September 2015 and oversaw the 2016 relaunch of the Museum.

This event will be recorded and posted on the SCI website. Please note: some members of the audience may be in view during the question and answer session at the end of the lecture