Conway Maritime established a reputation for a series of books that provided a high quality set of images, many unique, that described the structure and technology of the subjects. Since then, the imprint has passed through a number of hands and each new owner has managed to maintain the high standards originally achieved. This new book has demonstrated that Bloomsbury Publishing is a safe pair of hands for the Conway imprint. There is text and it is very good descriptive material that fully supports the fine selection of images. The subject is unique and this book shows just why the Mary Rose is such an important vessel. Those who filed through the original restoration shed were awed by the remains of this warship. It was a damp cold dark experience because the remaining hull structure had to be sprayed continuously at a controlled temperature during the initial restoration process. The author provides a brief history and introduction with some outstanding images and specially produced drawings. Highly Recommended.
NAME: Anatomy of the Ship, Tudor Warship Mary Rose
AUTHOR: Douglas McElvogue
PUBLISHER: Conway, Bloomsbury Publishing
BINDING: soft back
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: Tudor, 16th Century, naval architecture, guns, artillery development, firearms, bows, major warships, line-of-battle, sailing navy, wooden warships, archaeology, restoration
DESCRIPTION: Conway Maritime established a reputation for a series of books that provided a high quality set of images, many unique, that described the structure and technology of the subjects. Since then, the imprint has passed through a number of hands and each new owner has managed to maintain the high standards originally achieved. This new book has demonstrated that Bloomsbury Publishing is a safe pair of hands for the Conway imprint. There is text and it is very good descriptive material that fully supports the fine selection of images. The subject is unique and this book shows just why the Mary Rose is such an important vessel. Those who filed through the original restoration shed were awed by the remains of this warship. It was a damp cold dark experience because the remaining hull structure had to be sprayed continuously at a controlled temperature during the initial restoration process. The author provides a brief history and introduction with some outstanding images and specially produced drawings. Highly Recommended.
The story of the Mary Rose may seem sad, or tragic, but as a warship she enjoyed a relatively long life and, when she sank, she was to become the only restored example of a key development in the history of the sailing warship. She set off from Portsmouth under the eyes of King Henry VIII to take on a French fleet that was offshore. As she turned on leaving harbour, she started to take on water and rapidly sank, with heavy loss of life. There have been several theories as to why she sank as she did, but much information has emerged during her careful restoration.
Sinking on her side, the Mary Rose sank into the mud and clay so that an almost complete elevation was buried. Over the centuries that followed, the exposed timbers rotted but what was buried survived remarkably well. The decision to raise and preserve the remains was a brave one and there was no certainty that the process would be successful, or that anything significant could be preserved. There was simply no comparable experience to give any assurance.
A special lifting frame was constructed, taken out to the wreck site and fitted around the remains. The lift barge then began the painstaking process of slowly bringing the remains to the surface and then to the restoration shed in Portsmouth’s historic naval shipyards. It was a memorable sight for anyone fortunate to watch the process – one of those great memories that lasts for ever, in every detail.
One of the early tasks was in removing remaining mud and sifting it for artefacts. It was only then that the restoration team realized how much unique and priceless items were contained in what was left of the hull.
Mary Rose is now part of a fascinating museum in a new building. It is one of those maritime museums that must be visited.
This new Conway book provides a detailed view into a key piece of naval technology. It does this in a unique way with drawings and photographs that are each of the highest quality and finest detail. This tells a story that can only be told in this way and the publisher has done an outstanding job of production, at an amazingly low cover price.
What makes the Mary Rose such an important find and restoration is that not only is there an almost complete elevation, but the team restoring the remains have been able to extract so much additional detail with an amazing collection of fittings and personal equipment, together even with a skeleton ship’s dog. The work that has gone into the archaeology is unparalleled and this is covered very well in the book.
What makes the Mary Rose such an important ship is not just that she is the only vessel of her type to be restored to provide such a detailed collection of knowledge. The Mary Rose was one of a small number of vessels that marked a significant change in naval technology. She carried her guns mainly in broadside batteries and that allowed her and her fleet to sail in line as the first line-battle-ships. She was the Dreadnought of her age, changing naval warfare for ever.
Before the Mary Rose and a handful of similar ships, England had maintained very few vessels designed specifically and exclusively for war. King Arthur did build a relatively small navy of longships to defend against Norse attacks, but they do not appear to have been consistently maintained as a naval force, rather they were built, enjoyed a short life and periods passed when few if any were serviceable. The differences between fighting longships and their commercial knar sisters were not great. They were open boats equipped with a single square sail but were normally fought under oar power. As commercial craft developed and became larger, there is no evidence that warships were specifically built for the purpose. It seems that Kings impressed commercial vessels into naval service and carried out modifications that were later removed if the vessel returned to commercial use. The primary modification was to add a castle at stern and bow to provide fighting platforms for archers and spear-men. In some cases, the lookout platform high in the main mast may have been enlarged for archers. As guns became a more common weapon, these were added to impressed merchant craft but were issued in small numbers and mainly sledge mounted. The common round in use was stone balls. The Mary Rose also used stone ball ammunition but her guns were capable of firing iron shot.
Henry VIII was a keen developer of naval and land power. He commissioned castles, designed specifically for guns, and watched the Mary Rose sink from his vantage point at Southsea Castle which was, and is, a fine example of the Tudor gun fort. He also went to considerable effort to acquire modern guns, both artillery and personal firearms. As with the construction of castles designed to mount guns, he encouraged the building of ships to carry guns. The Mary Rose did include a large number of bows with a large supply of arrows, but she also carried personal firearms. What is notable is the extent of her gun armament and the size of the largest pieces.
The Mary Rose was a Great Castle ship. She introduced the broadside as a method of engagement, although she carried a number of smaller guns in the fore and aft castles, including guns that could fire down into the waist of the ship against boarders or mutineers. Most interestingly, she carried 40 pounder long guns on her main gun deck, larger than those carried in 1805 by HMS Victory. Tudor heavy naval guns had a greater range than those of Nelson’s day. What is not entirely clear is why the Tudor warships carried such a range of firearms. Some have speculated that this demonstrates an exciting period in the development of the gun where many different sizes and forms were experimented with. Alternatively, it has been suggested that the variation was a matter of supply rather than preference of or experiment. There is certainly evidence that Henry VIII pursued a number of sources of supply in an attempt to acquire the numbers of guns he required.
Even in 1805, a major warship would carry a number of sizes of gun, with the lowest gun deck carrying the largest guns that were all of one type and size. The next gun deck carried smaller guns and the third gun-deck the smallest long guns, but with the heaviest guns being short range cannonades, or smashers, on the same deck. Swivel guns were carried on the upper deck and in the fighting tops, being used also on the larger ships boats. Against the mixed armament of 1805 on major warships, perhaps the Tudor use of a number of different types of gun is not remarkable. However, the 1805 RN warship did have a standard gun format of cast iron canon, mounted on four wheel trucks, and a small number of short barrel heavy guns on slide mounts. In shape and construction, the 32 pounder, 24 pounder and 12 pounder guns where the same, differing only in size, and using the same design of four wheel truck mount. The Mary Rose demonstrates a variety of mounts, including four wheel wooden trucks, sledge mounts and swivels. The muzzle loading cast gun was in common use, but the forged gun was equally common and, although forged guns were prone to the forging breaking down, with a short in service life, it has been argued that they were cheaper and quicker to produce, offered improved performance initially, and also offered a higher rate of fire because they were supplied with three chambers that were charged and breech loaded one after the other. Where the forged canon started out on a wooden sledge, the Mary Rose demonstrates the next development where two wheels were mounted to the front of the carriage but a heavy elevating quadrant was the third point of contact with the deck. This arrangement would have improved the control for gun laying. As long as the gun was breech loaded, it would not have required running fully out after reloading, but recoil on firing would have driven the gun inboard and running it fully out to fire again would have required more effort than for a four wheel truck mount.
The armament and other items of equipment have been as carefully illustrated as the ship and its component parts. As the Mary Rose is not a complete elevation, the drawings of the hull have included an estimate of the forecastle, most of which had rotted away. As with other books in the series, the flaps of the cover fold out to reveal full hull drawings. In all, there are more than 200 drawings and plans, together with more than 40 reference photographs. Although the original readership for the series was expected to be model makers and serious naval history enthusiasts, this book and other books in the series provide a level of artwork to attract a much wider readership and the story of the Mary Rose and her restoration will appeal to many interests.