hamble river

Historic Henry V Warship 'Holy Ghost' Found At Bottom Of Hampshire River After 600 Years

A warship built for Henry V that helped him wage war against France in the 15th century has been found buried in MUD at the bottom of an English river.

The wreckage of the Holigost - or Holy Ghost - has been identified in the River Hamble in Hampshire, after it was spotted from an aerial photograph by historian Dr Ian Friel.

It is situated in an area described as a medieval breaker’s yard, next to Henry’s flagship, the Grace Dieu, which was identified in the 1930s.

The 600-year-old vessel was the second of four “great” ships built for Henry V’s royal fleet, according to government heritage agency Historic England, who are now taking steps to protect and investigate the shipwreck.

Dr Friel identified it as likely to be the Holigost when he was revisiting documentary evidence for his new book, Henry V’s Navy, and informed the heritage agency.

The Holigost was a major part of Henry V’s war machine as he sought to conquer France, in a conflict most famous for the Battle of Agincourt in 1415.

Duncan Wilson, Historic England chief executive, said: “The Battle of Agincourt is one of those historic events that has acquired huge national significance.

"To investigate a ship from this period close to the six hundredth anniversary is immensely exciting.

"It holds the possibility of fascinating revelations in the months and years to come.

“Historic England is committed to realising the full potential of the find.”

Dr Friel added: "In my opinion, further research leading to the rediscovery of the Holigost would be even more important than the identification of the Grace Dieu in the 1930s.

"The Holigost fought in two of the most significant naval battles of the Hundred Years War, battles that opened the way for the English conquest of northern France.”

The ship, which had a crew of 200 sailors and carried large numbers of soldiers to war, took part in operations between 1416 and 1420, including two of the most significant naval battles of the Hundred Years War which broke the French naval power.

It was the flagship of the Duke of Bedford at the battle of Harfleur in 1416 and in the thick of the fighting off the Chef de Caux in 1417.

The ship, whose name comes from Henry’s personally devotion to the Holy Trinity, was originally rebuilt from a Spanish vessel called the Santa Clara that was captured in late 1413 or early 1414 and then acquired by the English Crown.

Historic England said that underwater repair work on the ship carried out by a “dyver” called Davy Owen in 1423 may be the first-recorded example of a diver used in ship repair in England.

Pics: PA/Rex