History will come alive at the Royal Armouries Museum at Fort Nelson next Saturday (October 12) as our curators explain the heavy artillery used on King Henry VIII’s favourite warship, The Mary Rose, which sank in The Solent in 1545.

The in-depth, day-long event includes talks by our experts, a tour and firing demonstration – plus the chance to learn Tudor gun drill, using replica guns on the Fort’s Parade.

Unique research – carried out in conjunction with the Mary Rose Trust – will be revealed, providing the only real insight into the performance of Tudor gunnery.

Royal Armouries’ Keeper of Artillery Nicholas Hall said, “Tudor artillery has been a special area for research, particularly in conjunction with the Mary Rose Trust, since the recovery of ship artefacts and then the hull itself from the depths of the Solent.

“Our research is unique and will provide real insights into Tudor gunnery. Including our hands-on session, this is something not available anywhere else and should be fascinating to anybody interested in naval warfare, the Tudor period, and artillery generally.”

Nicholas will start the day’s programme by examining how Royal Armouries and the Mary Rose Trust conducted trials into the performance and handling of the key weapons on board.

Nicholas added, “In the case of artillery, replicas were built – first of a port piece then of a culverin. The first is breech-loading gun made of wrought iron while the second is a bronze gun, loaded at the muzzle. I will explain how these massive pieces were made, how they were fired and what conclusions can be drawn from the trials.”

Curator of Artillery Philip Magrath will then explain how Henry placed great emphasis on coastal fortifications in the face of European hostilities – and how the Solent, with its important strategic harbours, was heavily defended.

The Royal Armouries’ collection is particularly strong in objects relating to King Henry VIII and contains some key pieces of his artillery. A tour by the speakers will point out how Henry used foreign craftsmen to improve English artillery and look at the high quality of his guns – both as weapons and royal status symbols.

The event runs from 11am to 4pm and tickets are priced at £30. For more information about Royal Armouries, and ticket sales, visit www.royalarmouries.org

Background – Standing high on Portsdown Hill near Fareham, Fort Nelson showcases one of the world’s finest collections of artillery, down the ages and from across the globe. In 2011, this unique heritage attraction underwent a £3.5m redevelopment to create a museum for the 21st century, supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, complete with new galleries, state-of-the-art education centre and visitor facilities.

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Notes to editors

To find Fort Nelson, follow the brown Tourist signs from the M27. The Fort is open seven days a week, from 10am to 5pm.

Download the PDF press release.