Old Portsmouthand Historic Dockyard
Old Portsmouth and Historic Dockyard

Old Portsmouth began In the Southwest of Portsea island (the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour) due to a small inlet from the sea called the Camber which was a place for ships to stop and trade. (Normally ships to and from France.)  In about 1180 a wealthy merchant, Lord of the Manor of Titchfield named Jean De Gisors who owned a fleet of ships and some land on Portsea Island decided it was an ideal place to start a town and the city of Portsmouth was born.  Houses were soon built and a market was started which attracted craftsmen and merchants to live close by and the town grew. The area of Old Portsmouth is also known as Spice Island and is where all the spices used to enter the city. Not long after in 1185 a parish church was built (later it became Portsmouth Cathedral).



Old Portsmouth still has a feel of its famous naval past with its Narrow cobbled streets, historic buildings, towers and fortifications and the truly magnificent historic warships.
One of the first landmarks along the promenade walk from Clarence pier is The Spur redoubt, the place where the Vice-Admiral  Horatio Nelson took his last steps on dry land on his way to board the battleship, HMS Victory. The Bridge over the moat leads to a tunnel in which Nelson would have emerged.
The statue of Lord Nelson stands further along the walk at Grand Parade, a large space associated with the Garrison and the soldier parades.

Over the bridge, through the tunnel and a littler further on is The Royal Garrison Church. Today a ruin without a roof this church is known as The Domus Dei (God's House) and was built around 1212 as a hospice and shelter for pilgrims from overseas, later used by the garrison troops and was restored between 1866 and 1868.
On 10th January 1941 a fire bomb raid on Portsmouth gutted the nave of the church leaving it roofless. It is now a memorial.



The Round Tower and the Square Tower stand out along the seafront and were built as the first artillery fortifications. The Round tower was built around 1415 (with another tower at Gosport point) and was originally made of wood, a capstan could be used to raise a chain across the harbour entrance to prevent enemy ships from entering, this is called Capstan Square. later in 1495 the tower was rebuilt using stone and the Square tower was built South of the Round Tower and was used as the governors residence. Encasing the sea along the front are the "Hot Walls" or Coastal Battery wall, this was built in the 1500's and was known as the saluting platform. People still use the hot walls today to wave The Navy off on tours.

Broad Street runs from the Square tower to Portsmouth point, and once was the place for King James' Gate. The Gate was a huge stone arch and was the entrance from the town to the point, keeping out undesirables and sailors at night. A part of the gate is now situated at the United Services Recreation Ground in Burnaby Road.



St Thomas' Cathedral in Portsmouth is not far from the Square Tower, the Royal Garrison church and Grand parade. Originally a chapel Built in the late 1100's a parish church in the 14th century and then a cathedral in the 20th century. Of this original building, the chancel and transepts remain. The Anglican cathedral is one of the two cathedral churches in the city and has been the seat of the Bishop of Portsmouth since 1927.