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Keeping Everything Ship Shape

Words: Maricar Jagger, Public Events Manager at The University of Portsmouth

Photo: Dr Eleanor Schofield by Chris Ison

Dr Eleanor Schofield came to settle in Portsmouth 6 years ago. She had worked as a researcher at the University of Kent for over two years to understand how the Mary Rose’s wooden structure had deteriorated, and to develop new treatments. It was a dream come true when she was then offered a job at the museum.

Today Eleanor is the Head of Conservation & Collections Care at the Mary Rose, where she is responsible for the conservation of the hull and the 19000+ artefacts raised with the ship. Her job also involves overseeing the collection management, and the maintenance of the museum.

“My greatest passion is the research we do to help us understand the artefacts; we use that information to develop new, innovative conservation treatments and monitoring methods,” Eleanor said.

As a materials scientist, she uses her training to understand the materials the artefacts are made of, how they have deteriorated, and to determine what needs to be done to make them stable for years to come.

“Science is everything and everywhere! There is a misconception that science is boring, and follows a prescriptive path. This couldn’t be further from the truth – it is about being curious about how things work and react. It’s about looking at creative ways to answer difficult questions, and using this information to understand the world around us.”

On 21 June, the Mary Rose Trust, in partnership with the University of Portsmouth will be hosting an event: ‘the future of women in engineering’.  

“We have invited a panel of people from secondary education, academia, research and social engagement to discuss the theme. Discussion is important and can help to identify the barriers. Only when we identify the barriers can we try to find a way to break them down.”

There has been a long association between the Mary Rose and the University. Eleanor has been working with the School of Civil Engineering on studying the drying behaviour of the Mary Rose hull and the PhD student working on this project has just recently graduated.

“We have also arranged joint events in the past for British Science Week. People often do not realise the amount of science and engineering that goes into producing and maintaining a museum and collection such as ours. It is great to put that on people’s radar.”

Eleanor works closely with a number of other universities such as Glasgow, UCL, and Kent, and she is an honorary lecturer at Imperial College London. But Southsea is home to her.

“I really LOVE living in Southsea. I live very close to the seafront ,and I love to run/walk/cycle along the beach. I love that Southsea has so many independent cafés, bars and restaurants, and there seems to be new places opening all the time!”

“My favourite restaurant is Istanbul on Osborne Road, and I also like Huis – my partner is Belgian, so it makes him very happy going there – a little slice of home in Southsea!”

For information on The Future of Women in Engineering event at the Mary Rose Museum, go to the museum website or

Picture Credit: 

Dr Eleanor Schofield  Photo: Chris Ison

Posted in: Articles, History & Architecture