Tuesday, 13 October 2009

The Mary Rose – Dances and Doctors for fundraising appeal!

Photo: Jack Green, Tudor Doctor of Physic at the Mary Rose Museum

Those of you with long memories and short trousers may remember that I mentioned in the last Mary Rose blog that I do a lot of work for the Mary Rose 500 Appeal. The purpose of the 500 Public Appeal is to raise £1 million, which will be spent on helping to fund the new purpose-designed and built Mary Rose Museum.

The Mary Rose trust already has fundraisers, working with companies and organisations that donate large sums of money to charities dedicated to preserving the history and culture of the UK, but the 500 Appeal is different. This £1 million is to be raised by ordinary people, through private donations and from events, organised by volunteers. One such event was the “Salute to the Senior Service”, a 1940’s Tea Dance organised by the head of the 500 Appeal, Fiona Harvey, with help from Now that’s Jive, that was held at Southsea Castle, on 20th September.

Everything was laid out like a 1940’s dance, from the trestle tables and chairs arranged around an enormous wooden dance floor to the masking tape on the windows and posters telling us to ‘Dig for Victory’. There was even an unexploded bomb outside the NAAFI!
Everybody made a huge effort when it came to costumes, with many representatives from the various armed forces, including Royal Navy, RAF, WRNS and the Army, as well as several US army. Everyone else came in civilian dress, and even the bar staff had pencil moustaches. All the music was provided by Now That’s Jive, who also gave an amazing demonstration on how to dance 1940’s style! Everyone enjoyed the night, and overall raised over £800!

Now, some of you are probably wondering “What does the 1940’s have to do with the Mary Rose?” Well, as I mentioned above, this was intended as a tribute to the Royal Navy, who did such a great job of defending the UK from attack during the Second World War alongside the RAF. The concept of a Royal Navy began five hundred years ago, after the death of Henry VII, when his son, Henry VIII, decided that England needed protection at sea, so he ordered the building of two ships. One, the Peter Pomegranate, has since vanished into the mists of time, but the other, the Mary Rose, is still around, in the city that built her, crewed her and which she sank defending from a French Invasion Fleet in 1545. As one of the first ships to be built for what would eventually become the Royal Navy, it’s fair to say that the Mary Rose is the grandmother of all the ships.

Looking forward, on the 31st of October the Mary Rose Museum will be hosting the apothecary Jack Greene, who simultaneously thrills and disgusts our visitors with his demonstrations of Tudor medicine, from salves and ointments to leeches. He will be talking about the barber-surgeon, one of the most important people on the Mary Rose, and indeed one of the few to have his own cabin!

Having a barber-surgeon on board was one of the benefits of being in the King’s Navy. Barber-surgeons were highly trained practitioners of medicine, and could treat almost any ailment, at no cost to the patient. Despite the horror stories you may hear, barber-Surgeons knew about hygiene, and kept their tools clean, at least by Tudor standards, and would use natural antiseptics, such as lavender, thyme and honey.

If you want to know more about the barber-surgeon, Jack Greene’s talks and demonstrations are taking place in the Mary Rose museum, and admission is free with a valid Mary Rose Ticket. We also have a permanent display in the Mary Rose Museum dedicated to the Barber Surgeon, with some of the real objects found in his cabin, as well as replicas of some of them which you can handle, as well as a replica of his cabin you can actually go into!
Another event we have coming up is Tours by Torchlight, a spooky evening in the Museum which involves a lanthorn-lit tour, a talk on Paranormal Portsmouth and hopefully a few scares. The event is on 30th October, from 6:30PM until 9:00PM, and tickets are £10 for Adults, £5 for Concessions, and can be bought from the Mary Rose museum desk or via e-mail at mailto:S.M.Clabby@maryrose500.org?subject=Tours%20by%20Torchlight.

Information of other events can be found at http://www.maryrose500.org/, or on our facebook page www.facebook.com/maryrose500. We also post updates on our twitter, twitter.com/MaryRose500.

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