Visit Portchester and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Portchester, Hampshire, lies on the edge of Portsmouth Harbour, and from the seashore the cranes in Portsmouth dockyard and H.M.S. Victory are quite easily seen. Although there has been much development in the town, a few l8th century buildings remain, but the chief glory of Portchester is its castle.
Set on a spit of land it is lapped on three sides by the sea. In the late 3rd century the Romans built a fort here, probably one of a string put around the southern and eastern coasts of England. The fortress covered 9 acres bounded by a magnificent 20-ft-high wall. It still stands today, as do 14 of the original 20 fat round bastions. The fort was probably occupied until A.D. 370, and then again for a time by the Anglo-Saxons. During the first third of the 12th century Henry I added the keep — still impressive today - and walled off a small courtyard which he protected by a moat in the north-west corner.
In 1133 the priory was also founded, though about 15 years later the Augustinians moved to Southwick, probably because of the difficulties of living in a fort used for military purposes. The priory and its church were outside the inner courtyard, and of the general buildings little remains. The church, however, apart from the south transept, is more or less intact and unaltered. The west front is particularly fine, as is the 12th century carved font, resting on a 19th century base.
The next major building phase started in the 14th century. Between 1376 and 1381 Sir Robert Assheton, Constable of the Castle, built a great tower. The shell still stands today and it is known as Assheton's Tower. Towards the end of the 14th century. Richard II built a palace within the inner courtyard, and was in such a hurry about it that building was continued at night time. It is still possible to see the shell of the porch leading to the great hall, which had kitchens and so on on the east side. On the west side there were an enormous room, the Queen's chamber, and the Exchequer set against the keep. Later Sir Thomas Cornwallis, Governor until 1618, made further alterations and traces of Tudor building remain.
Originally the Romans built two large gates and two small posterns. Of these not much remains, but nearby are the Landgate, originally l2th century but added to in the 14th, and the Watergate, which dates from the 12th and 14th centuries and is less preserved.
Portchester Castle was popular with its royal residents, and kings usually stayed here when visiting Portsmouth. John certainly came here and once ordered the castle to be destroyed, an order later rescinded. Henry V stayed here before Agincourt and Henry VIII came with Anne Boleyn. The castle belonged to the Crown till 1632, but fell gradually into disrepair. It had, however, been used as a prison from early times. Dutch and French prisoners - the latter during the Napoleonic wars — have been kept here, as have others. But today the castle is under the care of the Ministry of Public Building and Works and is open to the public.
Adjacent cities/towns/villages: Alverstoke, Bedhampton, Bishop's Waltham, Bridgemary, Catherington, Cosham, Cowes, Curdridge, East Cowes, Eastney, Fareham, Farlington, Fleetland, Gosport, Hambledon, Havant, Hayling Island, Hill Head, Hilsea, Horndean, Langstone, Lee-on-the-Solent, Locks Heath, North Hayling, Park Gate, Portsmouth, Rowlands Castle, Shedfield, Soberton, South Hayling, Southsea, Southwick, Swanmore, Titchfield, Wallington, Waltham Chase, Warsash, Waterlooville, Whippingham, Wickham
Have you decided to visit Portchester or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a Portchester bed and breakfast (a Portchester B&B or Portchester b and b)
- a Portchester guesthouse
- a Portchester hotel (or motel)
- a Portchester self-catering establishment, or
- other Portchester accommodation