When Henry VIII came to the throne in 15O9, the small navy he inherited from his father Henry VII had only two reasonably large ships: the carracks Regent and Sovereign.
In 1510 he started to oversee the construction of two new ships – and they were launched in 1511.
One of them famously sank in the Solent in 1545, and can be seen today in Portsmouth in its own newly opened museum. It is, of course the Mary Rose. (More about that in a seperate post.)
But did you know that there was a sister ship, which went by the fabulous name of the Peter Pomegranate?
It is likely that the ship was named in honour of Saint Peter and Katharine of Aragon (the first wife of Henry VIII) whose heraldic symbol was – yep, you’ve guessed it – a pomegranate.
The Peter Pomegranate was slightly smaller than the Mary Rose, weighing in at 450 tons. However, in 1536 it was refurbished and enlarged to bring its tonnage up to 600. By now, Henry was married to Anne Boleyn so the Pomegranate part of the name was dropped and the ship became known simply as the Peter.
According to an inventory of 1547, the rebuilt Peter had …. “185 sailors, 185 soldiers, and 30 gunners. Her armaments included: 2 brass demi-cannons, 2 brass culverins, 4 brass demi-culverins, 4 brass sakers, an iron culverin, 3 iron sakers, 9 iron port pieces, 37 iron bases, and 11 hagbuts. There were also 259 yew bows, 160 bills; and 160 Moorish pikes.”
It seems to me that culverins, sakers and hagbuts deserve a post all of their own, so if anyone has specialist knowledge of these Tudor items and would like to write a blog-post – I’ll happily publish it.
The ship’s fate is not recorded, but it was last mentioned in records in 1558.
And here she is: the beautiful Peter Pomegranate in all her splendor!