Diver Barnwell speaks on HMS Gloucester

painting of the wrecking of the Gloucester
Painting of the wrecking of the Gloucester by Johan Danckerts

Objects recovered by divers from the 17th-century royal warship HMS Gloucester have been described as “comparable, if not better” than those on the Mary Rose, and now the public have the chance to find out more about the finds, the ship and how it was discovered in “An Evening with the Experts” in Norwich next week (27 October).

Speakers include scuba diver Julian Barnwell who, with his brother Lincoln and friend James Little, discovered the shipwreck, and the University of East Anglia’s Professor Claire Jowitt, author of The Last Voyage of the Gloucester and co-curator of artefacts recovered by the divers from the wreck.

The warship sank off the coast of Norfolk in 1682, almost killing the future king James II. The discovery of the wreck in 2007 came after a four-year search covering 5,000 nautical miles, as reported on Divernet when it was revealed in June. 

The wreck had remained a closely guarded secret for 15 years until it had been excavated and the artefacts sent to York Archaeology for restoration. 

four of the Gloucester team with a selection of artefacts
Claire Jowitt (second left) and Julian Barnwell (right) with HMS Gloucester artefacts (University of East Anglia)

“I get very excited by the stuff from the Gloucester because it’s a range of material you don't normally see,” YA’s head of conservation Ian Panter has told the BBC. “We’re looking at unique artefacts from a certain class of people, things that are being used by the crew, things that are being used by the royal passengers – it’s high-status stuff.

“I started my career working on the Mary Rose and these are comparable, if not better.” Some 19,000 artefacts were found on King Henry VIII’s flagship. 

An exhibition of Gloucester artefacts is planned by Norwich Castle Museum for next year. Possible exhibits include the ship’s bell, ceramics and textiles, a shoe, horn combs, spectacles in a decorative case, a jar of ointment, navigational instruments and many still-corked wine bottles.

Meanwhile Norfolk’s deputy lieutenant General the Lord Dannatt is chairing a charity that aims to keep the treasures on permanent exhibition in Great Yarmouth. With an entrance fee of £10, the upcoming talk will be one of its first fund-raising efforts.

Organised by Norwich Rotary Club, the event takes place at Norwich Assembly House at 7pm on Thursday, 27 October. Tickets can be obtained by emailing attleborough@cecilamey.co.uk

Also on Divernet: Alex Hildred: Mary Rose Diver, Divers Find The Tragic White Ship, Divers Find The Rudder That Sank Invincible, Sinking Feeling On The Mary Rose


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