Guest post: Simon Clabby shares the spooky atmosphere of the Mary Rose at night

Hello, my name is Simon, and I enjoy scaring people.

A photo of a man in Tudor costume holding a lantern

Illuminating the Mary Rose

Admittedly, in a museum like ours, that’s not hard. Walking through the Mary Rose museum, surrounded by the belongings of men who died over 450 years ago, in a wooden building dating back to the 1870s, with some of its exposed beams salvaged from old sailing ships … especially with the low lighting we have to use to protect the artefacts, it’s easy for your mind to play tricks on you. And that’s just with the lights on!

Our Museums at Night Torchlight Trail, which takes place tomorrow (Friday 14th May) builds on the success of Tours by Torchlight, which we held in October last year. Through the use of the artefacts on display, plus a few “Tudor sailors” dotted around, we were able to bring the museum to life in a way that very few members of the public have experienced previously.

However, it would have been impossible to hold this event without our excellent team of staff and volunteers, all of whom throw themselves into their roles with great aplomb! I was very proud of all them last year, and I’m certain that they’ll be just as brilliant this year.

A photo of two women in Tudor costume

Tudor women examine artefacts from the Mary Rose

Of course, we have one obstacle that many of the other venues don’t have; the Mary Rose museum is inside Portsmouth Naval Base, an area usually restricted outside museum opening hours. Usually you need to fill out several forms and undergo a security check before they let you in once the Historic Dockyard is closed, but luckily they’re prepared to make an exception for our guests!

Apart from putting the willies up the people of Portsmouth and Hampshire, our main purpose in running this event is fundraising. The Mary Rose 500 Appeal is our way of raising money to re-house the Mary Rose and her contents, which are currently distributed through three separate building  spread over a site 500 metres long. In doing so, not only will the ship and her contents be reunited, but it will also stand as a memorial to those brave men who lost their lives defending this country in 1545.

A photo of a man in Tudor costume

Simon Clabby

Simon Clabby has far too many jobs at the Mary Rose to list here, but amongst them is social media coordinator for the 500 Appeal, maintaining their presence on Twitter (@maryrose500) and Facebook ( and updating their Flickr account. He can be contacted at

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