The Mary Rose, warship of King Henry VIII, lay undiscovered beneath the waves for almost 300 years until one day, a fisherman’s line got tangled in the wreckage and her whereabouts became known. That was in 1836, but the salvage wasn’t attempted until the 1980’s when about 60 million people around the world switched on their TVs to watch the salvaged hull rise to the surface.
The ship is now on permanent display at the Mary Rose Museum. Approximately 19,000 artifacts were discovered in the wreckage, including domestic items such as leather shoes and a velvet hat, alongside militaria such as weapons and the paraphernalia of war.
Very little is known about the clothing worn by everyday people in Tudor times, because most paintings depict royalty or rich people in court dress. The Mary Rose gives us a unique insight into what the average man wore in 1545. Preserved in the silt all that time, leather shoes survived well, as did garments made from wool or silk. Linen degrades in the damp, so few undergarments have been found as these would have been made from linen.
There is a collection of over 500 shoes. Doesn’t it make you shiver to look at them? Weirdly, my husband has a pair of leather loafers almost identical to these, and just as old-looking! More than a hundred and thirty longbows and several thousand arrows were among the finds, so I guess these shoes may have belonged to English archers.
More about the Mary Rose on Wikipedia – (actually a rather well-compiled article)
Lovely unusual words for Tudor and Stuart footwear:
Buskins – calf length boots, often open at the toe or worn as overboots. The word buskin, first recorded in English in 1503 means “half boot”, and is of unknown origin, perhaps from Old French brousequin
Gamaches – high boots
Chopines – sometimes called Chapineys, were slip-on over-shoes made of wood and covered with leather
Galoches – or Galage, was a protective overshoe – we get the more modern word ‘galoshes’ from this. It originally meant clog, in french.
Pantofles – soft slippers for indoors
Pinsons – or pincnets, delicate indoor shoes (see below)