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The Gloucester Project


A major exhibition ‘The Last Voyage of the Gloucester: Norfolk’s Royal Shipwreck, 1682’ was held at Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery from 25 February 2023 to 10 September 2023, the result of a partnership between Julian and Lincoln Barnwell, Norfolk Museums Service, and academic partner UEA.









The curators were Professor Claire Jowitt and Dr Benjamin Redding (UEA), and Ruth Battersby Tooke and Dr Francesca Vanke (NMS). The exhibition staged a series of conversations to document the Gloucester's history. It explored its last voyage in May 1682 and raised questions about the circumstances that led to its loss. The warship's second life was also explored, starting in 2007 when divers Julian and Lincoln Barnwell, and James Little found the wreck site. The exhibition displayed some of the finds for the first time, including the bell that confirmed the ship’s identity. It shared ongoing historical, scientific, and archaeological research. 

'While the finds from the Gloucester cannot yet provide a complete picture of the ship and its occupants, as they comprise only artefacts that have happened to emerge from the wreck, they shed invaluable light on the individuals who travelled  on that final, fateful voyage and, in many cases, lost their lives without historical note. As analysis of the artefacts continues, more and more details about these forgotten individuals are being brought to light - and exhibitions like the one currently running in Norwich, which pieces together as much information about them as possible, serves as memorials that they never received'

Review extract from Carly Hilts, 'The Gloucester: Piecing together the story of a royal wreck', Current Archaeology, May 2023: 28-34.

David Kirkham Gallery Image 2.jfif

'The Last Voyage of the Gloucester: Norfolk's Royal Shipwreck, 1682', photograph: David Kirkham © Norfolk Museums Service.

All artefacts remain the property of the Ministry of Defence, however, where items are positively identified as personal property, ownership will then default to the Crown.

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