The Gloucester: Divers' video offers underwater tour of royal warship wreck lost for centuries

  • Underwater video of the shipwreck discovered by Julian and Lincoln Barnwell.

Underwater footage and a major new exhibition reveal some of the secrets of a royal warship which lay hidden for hundreds of years.

The newly-released video shows the remains of The Gloucester, which sank off the Norfolk coast in 1682 - costing the lives of up to 250 people and almost killing the future King James II.

Filmed by divers including Julian and Lincoln Barnwell, who went public with their discovery last year after keeping it secret for 15 years, the footage shows the ship submerged in the sand, along with items such as an anchor, rope and cannon and glass bottles.

Also visible are fishing nets that have been lost over the years, which the team says highlights the ongoing vulnerability of the site.

Brothers Julian and Lincoln Barnwell with some of the artefacts from the HMS Gloucester. Credit: UEA/ PA

The two scuba-diving brothers discovered the shipwreck in 2007 after a search that had lasted four years and covered 5,000 nautical miles.

They declared their find to the Receiver of Wrecks, the Ministry of Defence and English Heritage, but had to keep their discovery a secret for 15 years.

They were only able to reveal their findings in June last year, due to the sensitivity of the site.

The footage has been revealed ahead of a major exhibition opening this weekend exploring The Gloucester's last voyage.

It also features the Maritime Archaeology Trust (MAT) conducting photogrammetry of the wreck which gives viewers a "diver’s-eye" interactive tour of the site.

  • The Barnwell brothers showed ITV News Anglia's Rob Setchell around the treasures they discovered.

The exhibition at the Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery, co-curated by Norfolk Museums Service and UEA, will also showcase the artefacts found.

Lincoln Barnwell said: “We’re delighted to be able to share these glimpses of the wreck site, more of which visitors will be able to see in the exhibition, and excited to share the rescued artefacts for the first time with the public.

“The footage also highlights how vulnerable the wreck is, with fishing nets visible, and artefacts exposed on the surface of the seabed. This dynamic wreck site is clearly ‘at risk’ and there is a real urgency to secure the heritage of The Gloucester and the connected artefacts.”

Julian Barnwell added: “The discovery of The Gloucester has been an incredible adventure for all three of us, and we feel very honoured that its story is being told in such a professional and detailed manner.

"We are confident that anyone who visits the exhibition will come away with a better understanding of the events of 6 May, 1682, and not only their historical and political impacts, but also the human impact on the individuals involved."

Barnacle covered wine bottles were part of the discovery

UEA maritime history expert Prof Claire Jowitt said: “Until now, only a handful of people have been able to see what the Gloucester wreck site looks like. This footage, together with the artefacts and ongoing historical research, will help underline the importance of Britain’s maritime heritage to our island story.”

Looking to the long-term future, the project team is in the process of forming a new charity, The Gloucester 1682 Charitable Trust.

Chaired by General the Lord Dannatt, Norfolk Deputy Lieutenant and former head of the British Army, the trust will explore the possibility of a permanent museum in the coastal town of Great Yarmouth.

“We are incredibly excited about the exhibition and the future of the Gloucester project,” said Lord Dannatt.

“We hope people will go along, experience the artefacts first-hand, and embrace the history of this important ship.

It was one of the biggest news stories of our time - and it's still not over. So what did Boris Johnson know about Downing Street’s notorious parties? With fresh revelations from our Number 10 sources, in their own words, listen to the inside story...