Portsmouth is a vibrant city full of exciting things to do and see. Nestled on the south coast, its position has made it an effective naval base for many centuries. For this reason, the city celebrates a rich maritime history which attracts thousands of visitors every year. Here, we explore a brief history of Portsmouth and the best things to do and see there.
A Brief on Portsmouth History
Portsmouth history runs deep. According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, “no town existed at the site until 1194, when the strategic importance of Portsea Island induced King Richard I to build a settlement there and to grant it a charter, fair, and market.” Following this, the city was commonly used as a base for attacks against France. During the 13th and 14th century, the city imported items such as wool, wine, wheat and more.
In the 16th century, Henry VIII built Southsea Castle where he witnessed the famous Mary Rose ship sink. In the 19th century, Admiral Nelson disembarked from Portsmouth for the Battle of Trafalgar, and in the 20th century, the city experienced its first aerial bombing during WWI. Due to its importance as a naval base, the city experienced many bombings during WWII. It also served as an embarkation point for the D-Day landings in 1944.
What Is There to See and Do in Portsmouth?
Head to the seafront to explore the D-Day museum and the infamous Southsea Castle, before walking to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard where you can learn about the city’s naval history. Here, you’ll find the Royal Navy’s most famous warship, the HMS Victory, as well as the HMS Warrior 1860, the HMS 33, the National Museum of the Royal Navy and more.
Those interested in literature will enjoy a sneak peek inside Charles Dickens birthplace, while those that love architecture can head to one of the many cathedrals or churches in the city. We recommend Portsmouth cathedral which is a beautiful Anglican church dating back to 1180, with a peaceful memorial garden. St John’s Cathedral is also a must-see. It is a great example of Gothic Revival architecture having been built in 1882.
How Do you Get to Portsmouth?
Portsmouth is easily accessible from many parts of the UK. Those that want to drive can access the city from the A3(M), M27 and A27. There’s plenty of parking available depending on where you need to be. Alternatively, there are regular trains running to Portsmouth harbour that will save you the hassle of parking. For instance, you can hop on a train travelling from Southampton Central to Portsmouth Harbour and arrive in around 50 minutes. A train from London takes between an hour and a half to two hours and a half, depending on the service you choose.
Why not book your trip to Portsmouth today to learn more about its fascinating history?