At the entrance to the Harbour, The Point and the Camber, visitor to Portsmouth will find some of the oldest, and many listed, buildings. In 1180 a wealthy merchant founded a chapel. In time it became the Parish church for the settlement which grew around the Point and Camber, Portmouth. Richard I granted the town its Charter in 1194. By the C17th The Point had become notorious as a meeting place for sailors. Some called it Spice Island, and others called it The Devil’s Acre.
The original thoroughfare is now the High Street which has several important historic buildings. St Thomas’ Cathedral dates from 1188, but the present building is C16th. Also on the High Street is John Ponds Memorial church, and Portsmouth Grammar School. Many of the buildings are Georgian or Victorian. Thomas Street, which runs almost parallel, has attractive colour-washed houses and Georgian buildings.
In 1212 the Bishop of Winchester built the Garrison Church, which is on Penny Street, as a hospice for travelers and pilgrims. He dedicated it to St John the Baptist and St Nicholas, the patron saint of sailors. Charles I and Catherine of Breganza married there. A gilded bust of Charles I is at the Square Tower.
From the C15th the town developed as a naval base and adding defences over time. The Round Tower, near the end of Broad Street dates from 1415. Also, The Square Tower is opposite the end of the High Street. The Mary Rose, Henry VIII’s flag ship, sank in the Solent in 1545 and the remains were raised in 1982. It is on permanent exhibition in the dockyard, and tells much about the life of Tudor sailors.
The scheduled monument, Long Curtain, Kings Bastion and Spur Redoubt and the Moat, date from Charles II. According to the English Heritage listing “Access to the Spur Redoubt was through a brick lined sally port under the curtain wall and a light wooden bridge across the moat. Lord Nelson passed through this sally port in 1805 on his last departure from England.” The wall (Long Curtain) and Bastion were both utilitsed in WW2. It is a popular stretch of coast path.
HMS Victory, Admiral Lord Nelson’s flagship, the world’s longest serving warship, is on display. It is now exactly as it was at Trafalgar. HMS Warrior, open to visitors at The Hard in the dockyard, is the world’s first iron-clad warship. It’s launch in 1860 rendering all other warships obsolete and restored in 1987.