A few hours in Portsmouth.

Portsmouth Travel Blog

 › entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
Naval Memorial.

My husband is obsessed with football and he has a brother who is obsessed with football, too, so when they both decided to go and see their team, Walsall, play in Portsmouth, I came along to see the town. I must admit I had not researched my visit and did not know what there was to see, but as my brother-in-law dropped me off in a handy area for sights and as there were frequent touristic maps located around the streets, I managed to do quite well in the three or four hours I was there.

Portsmouth is a port city in Hampshire, around seventy miles south-west of London. Throughout history Portsmouth has been a significant naval port and it has the world's oldest dry dock.

Southsea Castle
Its seafront has long been heavily fortified to withstand invasion from Europe and some of these fortifications still remain. During the Second World War, Portsmouth was an embarkation point for the D-Day landings. At this time the city was badly bombed in the Portsmouth Blitz, resulting in the deaths of 930 people. The Royal Yacht Britannia left from here to attend the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997, and I saw it when it arrived at the other end in Hong Kong. Portsmouth is home to some famous ships, including Henry VIII's Mary Rose, which, of course, had to be rescued from the seabed and Horatio Nelson's HMS Victory. Portsmouth is also the birthplace of several famous people, such as, author Charles Dickens and engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

My brother-in-law dropped me off next to Clarence Pier which has a large amusement park next to it.

Gardens
I headed off in the direction of an impressive looking monument I could see in the distance. This turned out to be the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. It is located on Southsea Common and commemorates nearly 10,000 naval personnel who died at sea during the First World War. It was designed by Sir Robert Lorimer with sculpture by Henry Poole. It was unveiled on the 15th of October 1924 by Prince Albert, the future King George VI. A Second World War extension was later added to commemorate 15,000 people who died at sea during the Second World War. This was designed by Sir Edward Maufe with additional sculptures by Charles Wheeler, William and was unveiled by the Queen Mother, on the 29th of April 1953.

After looking at this, I headed off along the rather bracing seafront towards Southsea Castle.

Southsea Castle
Southsea Castle dates from 1544 when Henry VIII built a series of fortifications to strengthen England's coast against invaders. Henry VIII's flagship, the Mary Rose, sank more or less in front of Southsea Castle. At one point in its history the castle was a military prison. In the 1820s a lighthouse was built on the castle grounds. Southsea castle is free to enter. It has some displays showing its history, a microbrewery, a cafe and a gift shop. I enjoyed wandering around here an gazing out to sea from its ramparts.

Not far from the castle there are some very pretty gardens. I took a stroll through the Rock Gardens, then crossed a road to walk through Southsea Parade Gardens. In the distance I could see Southsea Pier. I passed the Pyramids Leisure Centre which apparently has a pool and gym.

Royal Garrison Church

After looking around this area I doubled back and set off towards the historic heart of Portsmouth. I walked along the seafront and passed some of Portsmouth's historic fortifications. I noticed a lovely ruined church slightly inland and went to investigate. This turned out to be the Royal Garrison Church. The Royal Garrison Church was built around 1212 by the Bishop of Winchester. Originally it was part of a hospital and hostel for pilgrims. The church was badly damaged in a bombing raid in 1941.

After leaving the church I saw a statue to Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson. His flagship HMS Victory on which he fought at the Battle of Trafalgar is in dry dock in Portsmouth.

Leaving the statue I returned to the waterfront and saw the Square Tower. A tower was first built here in 1494 as part of the attempt to strengthen England's coastal defences.

Lord Nelson.
The square tower was at that time home to the Governor of Portsmouth. Then in 1584 it was converted to a gunpowder store. When the royalists surrendered Portsmouth during the English Civil War, 1200 barrels of gunpowder were stored here. The royalists used the threat of blowing this up as a bargaining chip in the war. In 1779 the Square Tower was converted to a Royal Navy meat store. Nowadays it can be hired as a slightly unusual wedding venue.

Further along I came to the Round Tower. A wooden tower was built here between 1418 and 1426 on the orders of King Henry V. Later in the 1490's the wooden tower was rebuilt in stone

Then I wandered through Portsmouth's old town. In the distance I could see one of its newest tourist attractions - the Spinnaker Tower. This is a 560-foot observation tower in the middle of Portsmouth Harbour.

Square Tower.
It is shaped like a sail to reflect Portsmouth's maritime links. The tower was opened on the 18th of October 2005. I had hoped to be able to go to Portsmouth's historic dockyard from where I was, and in fact I did, but in a very roundabout way due to everything being separated by water. I passed a statue commemorating pioneering families who set out from Portsmouth for a new life in the Americas.

Of course due to having to take a round about route getting to Portsmouth's historic dockyard took me longer than I expected. I managed to see the HMS Warrior and then I had to make my way back to meet up with my husband and brother-in-law again. The HMS Warrior was Britain’s first iron-hulled, armoured battleship. She was launched in 1860. Near to the place where I viewed the ship from there was a statue of some mud larks - these were poor people who made their living by scavenging for items of value in river mud.

Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Naval Memorial.
Naval Memorial.
Southsea Castle
Southsea Castle
Gardens
Gardens
Southsea Castle
Southsea Castle
Royal Garrison Church
Royal Garrison Church
Lord Nelson.
Lord Nelson.
Square Tower.
Square Tower.
Round Tower.
Round Tower.
Spinnaker Tower.
Spinnaker Tower.
The Warrior
The Warrior
Portsmouth Cathedral.
Portsmouth Cathedral.
Sponsored Links
Portsmouth
photo by: Hannah1982Bug