Wreck of HMS Gloucester is discovered off the Norfolk coast 340 years after it sank


The wreck of a Royal warship that sank 340 years in the past carrying the longer term King James II has been found by novice divers.  

The invention of HMS Gloucester off the Norfolk coast has been hailed as the most important maritime discover for the reason that discovery of the Mary Rose within the Seventies.

The ‘excellent’ 54-gun frigate, which sank on Could 6, 1682 after hitting the Norfolk sandbanks within the southern North Sea, was uncovered 28 miles off the coast of Nice Yarmouth half-buried on the seabed – however the discover was stored secret till now to preserve the ship.

Efforts to find the wreck, led by brothers Julian and Lincoln Barnwell, proved profitable after a four-year search protecting 5,000 nautical miles.

Plans are underway to exhibit artefacts on board the ship which were dropped at land, together with garments, wine bottles and the ship’s bell, used to conclusively verify the wreck was the Gloucester. 

The exhibition – collectively curated by the College of East Anglia and Norfolk Museums Service – shall be staged for 5 months at Norwich Fort Museum & Artwork Gallery from spring subsequent yr. 

The ship itself is fragmented and nonetheless on the seafloor, and authorities say there are at present no plans to convey any a part of the stays to land. 

HMS Gloucester represents an ‘nearly’ second in British political historical past, because it almost brought on the demise of the Catholic inheritor to the Protestant throne at a time of nice political and spiritual pressure. 

James Stuart, later James II of England, who can be Britain’s final Catholic king, survived the sinking however as much as round 250 sailors and passengers misplaced their lives, largely as a result of his actions. 

James barely survived, having delayed abandoning ship till the final minute, needlessly costing the lives of between 130 and 250 folks on board who, due to protocol, couldn’t abandon the ship earlier than royalty. 

The wreck of a royal warship which sank in 1682 while carrying the future King of England James Stuart has been discovered off the coast of Norfolk. Photo issued by Norfolk Historic Shipwrecks shows divers Julian and Lincoln Barnwell measuring a canon that was found with the wreck

The wreck of a royal warship which sank in 1682 whereas carrying the longer term King of England James Stuart has been found off the coast of Norfolk. Photograph issued by Norfolk Historic Shipwrecks reveals divers Julian and Lincoln Barnwell measuring a canon that was discovered with the wreck

The 'outstanding' ship, which sank on May 6, 1682 after hitting the Norfolk sandbanks in the southern North Sea, was uncovered 28 miles off the coast of Great Yarmouth half-buried on the seabed - but the find was kept secret until now to conserve the ship

The ‘excellent’ ship, which sank on Could 6, 1682 after hitting the Norfolk sandbanks within the southern North Sea, was uncovered 28 miles off the coast of Nice Yarmouth half-buried on the seabed – however the discover was stored secret till now to preserve the ship

Photo issued by the University of East Anglia (UEA) shows Julian and Lincoln Barnwell with the ship’s bell - used to conclusively confirm the wreck was the Gloucester

Photograph issued by the College of East Anglia (UEA) reveals Julian and Lincoln Barnwell with the ship’s bell – used to conclusively verify the wreck was the Gloucester

The all-important bell from the HMS Gloucester which sank off the Norfolk coast 340 years ago while carrying the future king James Stuart

The all-important bell from the HMS Gloucester which sank off the Norfolk coast 340 years in the past whereas carrying the longer term king James Stuart

James Stuart, later James II of England (depicted here), survived the sinking but up to around 200 sailors and passengers lost their lives, largely due to the future king's actions

James Stuart, later James II of England (depicted right here), survived the sinking however as much as round 200 sailors and passengers misplaced their lives, largely as a result of future king’s actions

How did HMS Gloucester sink?

The vessel’s sinking is a matter of nice historic debate.

Some accounts declare the vessel sank because of this over a dispute between James, a former Lord Excessive Admiral, and the ship’s pilot James Ayres about the perfect route by way of the treacherous Norfolk sandbanks.

James barely survived, and delayed abandoning ship till the final minute – probably ensuing within the deaths of sailors who have been forbidden to depart the ship earlier than the ‘individuals of high quality’ as royalty have been recognized.

James took no duty for the catastrophe, as a substitute blaming the pilot who he demanded be hanged instantly.

Mr Ayres was as a substitute court-martialled and imprisoned.

James went on to reign as King James II of England and Eire and James VII of Scotland from 1685 till 1688, when he was deposed by the Wonderful Revolution.

Diarist and naval administrator Samuel Pepys, who witnessed occasions from one other ship within the fleet, wrote his personal account – describing the harrowing expertise for victims and survivors, with some picked up ‘half useless’ from the water.

In addition to James, HMS Gloucester carried quite a lot of distinguished English and Scottish courtiers together with John Churchill, later the first Duke of Marlborough.

The catastrophe was witnessed by diarist Samuel Pepys, who was on one other vessel within the fleet.

He wrote a harrowing account of victims and survivors being picked up ‘half useless’ from the water.

Professor Claire Jowitt, a maritime historical past skilled on the College of East Anglia, has referred to as it the most vital maritime discovery for the reason that Mary Rose, the warship from the Tudor navy of King Henry VIII. 

The Mary Rose sank in battle within the Solent in 1545, and was raised in 1982, later being placed on show in Portsmouth. 

‘The invention guarantees to basically change understanding of Seventeenth-century social, maritime and political historical past,’ Professor Jowitt stated. 

‘It’s an impressive instance of underwater cultural heritage of nationwide and worldwide significance. Due to the circumstances of its sinking, this may be claimed as the one most important historic maritime discovery for the reason that elevating of the Mary Rose in 1982.’

The explorers found the wreck in June 2007 after a four-year search protecting 5000 nautical miles. 

The brothers, printers by commerce, hid the discover for 15 years to maintain it protected from treasure hunters because it was in worldwide waters.

Lincoln, 51, stated that they had determined to hunt for the vessel after studying about it in a guide in 2003.

However they have been starting to surrender hope after 4 fruitless years and travelling 5,000 nautical miles.

‘It was our fourth dive season searching for Gloucester,’ he stated.

‘We have been beginning to imagine that we weren’t going to seek out her. We’d dived a lot and simply discovered sand.

‘On my descent to the seabed, the very first thing I noticed have been giant cannon laying on white sand. It was awe-inspiring and actually stunning.

‘It immediately felt like a privilege to be there. It was so thrilling.

‘We have been the one folks on the earth at that second in time who knew the place the wreck lay. That was particular, and I’ll always remember it. Our subsequent job was to determine the positioning because the Gloucester.’

In 2012 one of many rescued finds – the ship’s bell, manufactured in 1681 – was utilized by the Receiver of Wreck and Ministry of Defence to conclusively verify the wreck was the Gloucester. 

It’s only now, 10 years on, that the ship’s discovery could be made public, largely as a result of want to guard an ‘in danger’ website, which lies in worldwide waters.

Nevertheless, the precise location of the wreck is protected and nonetheless can’t be disclosed.

THE ILL-FATED HMS GLOUCESTER  

HMS Gloucester was commissioned in 1652, constructed at Limehouse in London, and launched in 1654.

In 1682 it was chosen to hold James to Edinburgh to gather his closely pregnant spouse and their households.

The purpose was to convey them again to King Charles II’s courtroom in London in time, it was hoped, for the delivery of a official male inheritor.

The ship set sail from Portsmouth, with James and his entourage becoming a member of it off Margate in Kent, having travelled by yacht from London. In all there have been round 330 folks on board. 

At 5.30am on Could 6, HMS Gloucester hit the treacherous Norfolk sandbanks some 28 miles (45km) off Nice Yarmouth following a dispute between James, then the Duke of York, and the ship’s pilot James Ayres about how you can navigate them.

The Duke, a former Lord Excessive Admiral, had quarrelled with the pilot James Ayres the earlier evening about what course to comply with to keep away from the treacherous Norfolk sandbanks. 

Wreck of the 'Gloucester' off Yarmouth, May 6, 1682. Since running aground on a sandbank on May 6, 1682, the wreck of the warship the Gloucester has lain half-buried on the seabed

Wreck of the ‘Gloucester’ off Yarmouth, Could 6, 1682. Since working aground on a sandbank on Could 6, 1682, the wreck of the warship the Gloucester has lain half-buried on the seabed

It sank inside an hour of the strike, killing roughly round 150 to 200 crew and passengers.  

James barely survived, having delayed abandoning ship till the final minute, needlessly costing the lives of many who, due to protocol, couldn’t abandon the ship earlier than royalty.

Shortly earlier than the ship sank, James escaped into one of many Gloucester’s small boats together with his shut pal the courtier John Churchill (later 1st Duke of Marlborough). 

The boat had been hoisted into the ocean and the Duke lastly consented to be taken to the security of one of many accompanying yachts, the Mary, which was a part of the fleet. He then hurried to Edinburgh, arriving on Could 7 about 8pm. 

James clearly influenced the selection of the HMS Gloucester’s route however accepted no duty when catastrophe struck and solely blamed the pilot, wishing him to be hanged instantly (although he was in actual fact courtroom martialled and imprisoned). 

James went on to reign as King James II of England and Eire and James VII of Scotland from 1685 till 1688, when he was deposed by the Wonderful Revolution.

Diarist and naval administrator Samuel Pepys, who witnessed occasions from one other ship within the fleet, wrote his personal account of the tragic sinking.

Pepys described the harrowing expertise for victims and survivors, a few of whom have been picked up ‘half useless’ from the water.

He additionally commented on how far more severe the catastrophe may need been: ‘Had this fallen out however two hours sooner within the morning, or the yachts on the typical distance that they had on a regular basis earlier than been, the Duke himself and each soul had perished.’ 

The Barnwell brothers discovered the wreck website with their late father Michael and two associates together with James Little, a former Royal Navy submariner and diver.

The ship was discovered cut up down the keel with the stays of the hull submerged within the sand.

In addition to the Receiver of Wreck and Ministry of Defence, the wreck has been declared to Historic England.

Artefacts rescued and conserved from the wreck embody garments and sneakers, navigational and different skilled naval tools, private possessions, and lots of wine bottles. 

Efforts to locate the wreck, led by brothers Julian and Lincoln Barnwell, proved successful after a four-year search cover 5,000 nautical miles

Efforts to find the wreck, led by brothers Julian and Lincoln Barnwell, proved profitable after a four-year search cowl 5,000 nautical miles

The Barnwell brothers are Norfolk-based printers, licensed divers and Honorary Fellows in the School of History at UEA. Lincoln said he was partly inspired to search for the wreck after watching the lifting of the Mary Rose on television as a child

The Barnwell brothers are Norfolk-based printers, licensed divers and Honorary Fellows within the College of Historical past at UEA. Lincoln stated he was partly impressed to seek for the wreck after watching the lifting of the Mary Rose on tv as a toddler

The 54-gun frigate, which sank on May 6, 1682 after hitting the Norfolk sandbanks in the southern North Sea, was uncovered 28 miles off the coast of Great Yarmouth. The exact location of the wreck is protected and cannot be made public.

The 54-gun frigate, which sank on Could 6, 1682 after hitting the Norfolk sandbanks within the southern North Sea, was uncovered 28 miles off the coast of Nice Yarmouth. The precise location of the wreck is protected and can’t be made public.

One of many bottles bears a glass seal with the crest of the Legge household – ancestors of George Washington, the primary US President.

The Legge household crest was a forerunner to the Stars and Stripes flag.

There have been additionally some unopened bottles, with wine nonetheless inside, providing alternatives for future analysis.

Pictured, one of the glass bottles found with the wreck, which also bears a seal with the crest of the Legge family, ancestors of George Washington, the first US President

Pictured, one of many glass bottles discovered with the wreck, which additionally bears a seal with the crest of the Legge household, ancestors of George Washington, the primary US President

Photo issued by Norfolk Historic Shipwrecks shows a close-up of the crest of the Legge family. The Legge family crest was a forerunner to the Stars and Stripes flag

Photograph issued by Norfolk Historic Shipwrecks reveals a close-up of the crest of the Legge household. The Legge household crest was a forerunner to the Stars and Stripes flag

Subsequent yr’s exhibition, entitled ‘The Final Voyage of the Gloucester: Norfolk’s Royal Shipwreck’, will show finds from the wreck and share ongoing historic, scientific and archaeological analysis.

Finally, researchers need to shed extra gentle on the identification and lives of those that sadly misplaced their lives.  

‘A tragedy of appreciable proportions when it comes to lack of life, each privileged and strange, the total story of the Gloucester’s final voyage and the influence of its aftermath wants re-telling, together with its cultural and political significance, and legacy,’ Professor Jowitt stated. 

‘We may also attempt to set up who else died and inform their tales, because the identities of a fraction of the victims are at present recognized.’ 

HOW COULD BRITISH HISTORY HAVE BEEN DIFFERENT IF JAMES HAD DIED ON HMS GLOUCESTER? 

On the time of the sinking of HMS Gloucester, Charles II was on the throne. His brother James, Duke of York, was subsequent in line for the throne. 

If James had drowned in 1682, British historical past would in all probability have seemed very completely different. Charles II’s illegitimate son – James Scott, the Duke of Monmouth – could very properly have inherited the throne on his father’s demise in 1685.

The Wonderful Revolution of November 1688, which created a brand new kind of state and contributed vastly to the trendy world, wouldn’t have occurred. 

Or maybe in 1685 one other civil struggle may need ensued between those that supported the declare of King Charles’s illegitimate Protestant son, Monmouth, in opposition to the claims of the Duke of York’s official Protestant daughter Mary and her overseas husband William of Orange (a tough alternative for patriotic Protestant Englishmen since William managed his spouse politically). 

On the time of the catastrophe in 1682, there have been political and spiritual tensions surrounding James. 

James’ Catholicism turned extensively recognized after the introduction of the Take a look at Act in February 1673, the place these refusing to take an oath denouncing the Catholic perception in transubstantiation have been debarred from holding public workplace. 

In June, James was pressured to resign his place as Lord Excessive Admiral, and his marriage in September 1673 to the Catholic Princess Mary of Modena indicated to his Protestant countrymen his enduring dedication to the Roman religion.

Protestants suspected that Mary was decided to have an effect on the conversion of England, making her and her husband unpopular. 

James’ Catholicism provoked a significant constitutional disaster between 1678-81 when a gaggle of English Protestants referred to as the Nation Get together, later termed the Whigs, tried to exclude James from inheriting the throne, fearing {that a} Catholic king can be the puppet of the French Catholic king, Louis XIV.

There have been quite a lot of conspiracies, the place it was extensively believed that there have been plots to homicide Charles II and exchange him together with his Catholic brother. 

Most prominently the so-called Popish Plot (1678) provoked mass hysteria. Consequently, James was more and more vilified and, fearing the overthrow of his personal rule, Charles II ordered James and his household to reside first within the Hague after which Scotland, the place he primarily remained from 1679-82. 

James II, thought as largely chargeable for the sinking of HMS Gloucester and ensuing lack of life, has additionally been condemned within the modern-day for his hyperlinks with the slave commerce.

Supply: College of East Anglia 



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