Mary Rose And Cutty Sark Get £31m Heritage Lottery Funding

By Ben Reus | 24 January 2008
computer graphic of a wooden building with a domed roof and long glass window next to the stern of an old warship

The planned museum, designed to look like the ship's hull. © Wilkinson Eyre Architects

One of the world's oldest surviving warships, the 16th century Mary Rose has been saved once again after being awarded a £21 million Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant, amid fierce competition for funds.

In July 2007, the Mary Rose Trust had been unsuccessful in its bids to secure HLF funding for the ship's preservation and a new museum designed by award-winning architects Wilkinson Eyre.

After the latest announcement, with plans now going ahead, the cash injection will also bring 19,000 rare artefacts, found with the ship, under one roof for the first time and allow completion of a 26 year conservation project.

Photo of a member of staff at the Mary Rose holding a brown leather shoe.

A tudor leather shoe found with the Mary Rose is one of the thousands of artefacts that will now be displayed.

The final phase of the project to conserve Henry VIII’s ship will involve a drying out process that will see the ship lose a third of its weight in water, followed by treatment with a concentrated polyethylene glycol (PEG) to preserve it.

The new purpose-built museum, at Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard, will also be able to exhibit 70% of the treasures recovered from the Solent with the Mary Rose in 1982, rather than the 6% it is currently able to display at various locations.

“The trust is thrilled to receive the news of the HLF' support” said John Lipppiett, CEO of the Mary Rose Trust, “Our facilities will be world class and we’ll also be able to take the collection out into the community with our outreach programmes”.

David Starkey, renowned historian and broadcaster, has described the Mary Rose as “One of the most important objects in English history, up there with the Domesday Book, The Magna Carta and Hampton Court,”adding, “Indeed I would go further; the Mary Rose is the English Pompeii; all Tudor life is there.”

Shows an artist's impression of the Mary Rose at sea.

The Mary Rose as it is believed she would have looked in her prime. Picture courtesy of Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

The HLF’s board of trustees also looked at other applications including a £9.3m request from Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, £15m for Lowther Castle in Penrith and £9.9m for the National Art Collections Centre at Tate, London, but were unable to support these schemes.

The Museum of Science and Industry’s Project Dalton, Birmingham’s Thinktank Science For All Seasons and The Royal Historical Palaces’ grant applications were also turned down.

“This was an unusually competitive round” explained Dame Liz Forgan, Chair of the HLF, “Unfortunately we had to make some tough decisions that have meant disappointing many other worthy applicants.”

A £10 million grant increase application from the Cutty Sark Trust, to cover additional costs following the fire in May 2007, was approved as an exceptional addition to the HLF’s budget.

Shows a photograph of the Cutty Sark at night, set against a backdrop of lit-up London landmarks.

The Cutty Sark - once an iconic feature of the London landscape - was ravaged by fire in 2007. It will receive a £10m grant increase from the HLF. © Cutty Sark Trust .

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