Historic England has announced £1.8 million in grants for 70 projects to help tackle the impact of Coronavirus on the heritage sector. This includes emergency funding for the Mary Rose.
On 18 March 2020, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard issued the following tweet. "It is with a heavy heart that we have decided to close all of the sites of The National Museum of the Royal Navy. This is a difficult decision but we've done so with the wellbeing of our staff, volunteers and visitors in mind." Director General Dominic Tweddie
The Dockyard curates a number of important naval exhibits including HMS Warrior, Britain’s first iron-hulled, armoured battleship and HMS Victory, Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar. The oldest exhibit at the historic dockyard is the Mary Rose. This 16th century Tudor warship is at risk of deteriorating because of the lack of visitor income during the COVID-19 crisis. Normally, this vital revenue stream helps fund the specialist climate-controlled conservation work.
Historic England Emergency Grant Fund
The Hampshire Dockyard is not the only organisation to be adversely impacted by Coronavirus. Historic England (HE) conducted a survey of heritage organisations and it revealed the adverse impact of Coronavirus on this sector. A Covid-19 Emergency Response Grant Fund was therefore set up in April.
Our historic places boost the economy and revitalise local communities. Duncan Ward, Historic England
Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England stated "Our historic places bring us together. It is vital that they survive intact. Our emergency grants are providing a much-needed safety net to organisations and businesses that are helping to save our most precious heritage.”
The grant from Historic England is very timely and much appreciated. Mary Rose Trust
Historic England has given the Mary Rose Trust a grant of £25,000. This will enable staff to continue monitoring, maintaining and repairing the complex environmental system that preserves the wooden hulk.
The Mary Rose remains in mortal peril. Mary Rose Trust
Helen Bonser-Wilton, CEO of the Mary Rose Trust stated “The grant from Historic England is very timely and much appreciated. It helps us to cover some of the essential costs of our specialist conservation and collections care team."
Not out of the woods yet
Historic England has also highlighted that the financial strain caused by COVID-19 has put the nation’s irreplaceable heritage at risk. It didn't take too many weeks of non-visitor income for the Mary Rose Trust to feel the financial strain. Helen Bonser-Wilton, CEO of the Mary Rose Trust, warned “The Mary Rose remains in mortal peril. Without on-going significant help with caring for this internationally significant and iconic collection, we will struggle to survive this financial year.”