So much has changed in the four years since our last visit to the Mary Rose. The Three-Year-old wasn’t earthside for a start (so this technically wasn’t his first visit!), and I remember being very grateful for the cool and darkened corridors (plus the places to sit and rest!) as I waddled from one end of the ship to the other trying to keep up with everyone.
Now, of course, we have a rambunctious three and a bit-year-old, and I don’t get a chance to waddle anywhere, or indeed sit down and rest much (generally!). Although it doesn’t stop us, museum visits can be a particularly unrelaxing experience unless there’s something to keep him occupied and interested.
Thankfully The Mary Rose recently launched something which does exactly all of the above, and so we became Ship Wreck Explorers for our most recent visit (last weekend!) complete with a treasure map and everything.
Following the map carefully and studying it for clues, we were able to locate several treasure trunks throughout the museum, each full of fun but educational activities designed to keep children busy… The Three-Year-Old learned a lot of small-person sized info about this once magnificent ship (actually, I think it’s still pretty magnificent!) and the 500 people who once sailed on her all those years ago thanks to this clever story trail…
Favourite trunks included a large skeleton jigsaw, another that contained a feast you had to create for the Captain (he’s not going to get scurvy with the amount of peas he was dished up, but his cholesterol levels might be about to combust given the meat mountain he was expected to eat!).
We spent ages in this section whilst our tiny chef set out dishes and put together “interesting” meals- but I wasn’t complaining, as every few minutes the most amazing light show would take place, projecting the Tudor Crew in times of war and peace on the ancient timber frame together with accompanying sounds such as the groaning and creaking of the ship, or the crew getting ready for a battle. It’s really mesmerising and quite otherworldly…
There are plenty of hands-on activities for Small People aside from the trunks themselves, including handling objects from life back in 1545, exploring the sights and sounds of the time through objects found on board, and via interactive displays (with apologies to those quietly trying to read exhibit notes whilst the three-year-old was busy destroying ships with the cannonball game. This wasn’t really the point by the way, ships were worth a lot more money intact rather than under the sea!)… There are also dressing up opportunities plus the chance to see if you are strong enough to use a Tudor Long Bow…
My teens really enjoyed the Faces of the Mary Rose Exhibition, telling the story of the ship and her crew through their personal possessions and professional tools. What they can now tell about a person, the life they lived and where they came from through their bones alone is quite incredible. It was so interesting to discover more about life in Tudor England and how it was much more diverse than you might expect – the crew consisted of many different cultures.
The most popular Mary Rose crew member has to be Hatch (he was our favourite last visit too!) the beloved dog that was thought to belong to the ship’s carpenter (his skeleton was found outside his door). Hatch is a much bigger part of the story than he was previously and really appealed to the three-year-old. He loved creating his ideal pet dog on an interactive screen, which was a little hard as green dogs didn’t come into the category equation, but we ended up with a relatively normal dog at the end of it all…
So much thought has been put into the many different aspects of the museum, from the artefacts, the interactive activities, the Shipwreck Explorer treasure trail for the tinies, the educational aspect in terms of puzzles, all with the backdrop of this beautiful ship. The Mary Rose is a really special place, run by passionate people (it’s clear to see the staff love working here!), and one that I know we will visit again and again as we are only half an hour up the road.
Lunch afterwards at Boathouse 4 proved equally lovely and peaceful thanks to the view of the harbour and the boats of many shapes and sizes outside to watch. Want to know what we had for lunch? A Mary Rose Burger, and a Mary Rose Ale to go with it, naturally!
Linking to CulturedKids, FearlessFamilyTravel
The Mary Rose has kindly offered my readers a 25% discount when purchasing tickets online. Enter the code ‘Bavarian25’ into the check out box when you go through to the checkout. There’s no limit as to how many times you can use the code, or how many tickets you purchase. All tickets last for a year!
*we were invited to visit the Mary Rose and review the Shipwreck Explorers. All words and opinions are my own.