Portsmouth Introduction Walking Tour, Portsmouth

Portsmouth Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Portsmouth

One of England's most notable naval bases and ports, the city of Portsmouth is closely associated with sea. Still, despite its seafaring background, Portsmouth has quite a bit to offer its guests on the dry land as well. Follow this orientation walk to familiarize yourself with some interesting facts about historic and contemporary Portsmouth manifested in various sights and landmarks.
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Portsmouth Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Portsmouth Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: England » Portsmouth (See other walking tours in Portsmouth)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 11
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.9 Km or 3 Miles
Author: Lilly
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Portsmouth Guildhall
  • Victoria Park
  • Gunwharf Quays
  • Spinnaker Tower
  • Portsmouth Cathedral
  • Square Tower
  • Lord Horatio Nelson Statue
  • Domus Dei
  • Clarence Pier
  • D-Day Museum
  • Southsea Castle
Portsmouth Guildhall

1) Portsmouth Guildhall (must see)

Portsmouth Guildhall is the biggest events venue in the Hampshire city of Portsmouth. The building, completed in 1890, was designed in the neo-classical style by architect William Hill, who had earlier been responsible for the design of the town hall in Bolton. Local Architect Charles Bevis in partnership with Hill directed the construction, Hill died before the completion of the building with Bevis adding to the design.

The building was originally called the Town Hall, but on 21 April 1926 it was announced that Portsmouth would be raised to the status of a city and the town hall was renamed the Guildhall. The Guildhall has a capacity of up to 2000. It is located in the city centre of Portsmouth, very close to the Portsmouth and Southsea railway station.

On 10th January, 1941, during the Second World War, the building was hit by incendiary bombs and was gutted. The interior and roof were totally destroyed, with just the outer walls and tower remaining, albeit fire-damaged. The building was rebuilt after the war for £1.5 million, using war compensation funds, and on 8 June 1959 Her Majesty the Queen performed the re-opening ceremony. However, the interior was changed from the original and the external style is missing much of its original ornateness, especially the dome above the clock and the finials atop the balustrades around the roof.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Victoria Park

2) Victoria Park

Victoria Park is a public park located just to the north of Portsmouth Guildhall, adjacent to Portsmouth and Southsea railway station and close to the city centre in Portsmouth. It was officially opened on 25 May 1878 and was the first public park to be opened in Portsmouth. It was designed by Alexander McKenzie. It has a total area of around 15 acres (61,000 m2) and is planted with trees, shrubs and flowers.

The centre of the park features an enclosed area which inhabits animals such as birds, rabbits and guinea pigs. It is also home to a number of monuments. These mostly consist of obelisks but there is also one in the style of a Chinese temple.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Gunwharf Quays

3) Gunwharf Quays

Gunwharf Quays is an outlet retail destination with 90 outlet stores and 30 restaurants, pubs and cafés located in Portsmouth, UK. It was constructed in the early 21st century on the site of what had once been HM Gunwharf, Portsmouth. This was one of several such facilities which were established around Britain and the Empire by the Board of Ordnance, where cannons, ammunition and other armaments were stored, repaired and serviced ready for use on land or at sea. Later known as HMS Vernon, the military site closed in 1995, and opened to the public as Gunwharf Quays after six years of reconstruction (which included the restoration of some of the surviving 18th and 19th-century Gun Wharf buildings). The landmark Spinnaker Tower, which also stands on the site, was opened a few years later.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Spinnaker Tower

4) Spinnaker Tower (must see)

Spinnaker Tower is the centrepiece of the redevelopment of Portsmouth Harbour, which was supported by a National Lottery grant. Its shape was chosen by Portsmouth residents from a selection. The tower, designed by local firm HGP Architects and the engineering consultants Scott Wilson and built by Mowlem, reflects Portsmouth's maritime history by being modelled after a sail. After several years of delays and cost overruns, it was opened on 18 October 2005.

Planning began in 2000, and construction began 2001, and was completed in mid-2005, due to repeated delays and extra funding requests by the builders Mowlem. This was six years later than the planned opening date of 1999, chosen to coincide with Millennium celebrations. The tower, at a height of 170 m above sea level, is 2.1⁄2 times as high as Nelson's Column, making it the tallest accessible structure in the United Kingdom outside London. The tower is visible for miles around Portsmouth, changing the horizon of the area. It can be seen from the Isle of Wight, and even the Manhood Peninsula.

The tower represents sails billowing in the wind, a design accomplished using two large, white, sweeping steel arcs, which give the tower its spinnaker sail design. The steelwork was fabricated by Butterley Engineering. At the top is a triple observation deck, providing a 350° view of the city of Portsmouth, the Langstone and Portsmouth harbours, and a viewing distance of 37 kilometres (23 mi).
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Portsmouth Cathedral

5) Portsmouth Cathedral (must see)

The Cathedral Church of St Thomas of Canterbury, Portsmouth, commonly known as Portsmouth Cathedral, is the Church of England cathedral of the City of Portsmouth, England and is located in the heart of Old Portsmouth. It is the seat of the Bishop of Portsmouth. Around the year 1180 Jean de Gisors, a wealthy Norman merchant and Lord of the Manor of Titchfield, gave land in his new town of Portsmouth to the Augustinian canons of Southwick Priory so that they could build a chapel "to the glorious honour of the martyr Thomas of Canterbury". This chapel was to become in turn a parish church in the 14th century and then a cathedral in the 20th century. Between 1902 and 1904 the church was closed for restoration work to be carried out. In 1927 the Diocese of Portsmouth was created. In 1932 Sir Charles Nicholson published plans to enlarge St Thomas's. In 1939, due to the outbreak of World War II, work on the extension scheme stopped, and was not recommenced until 1990.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Square Tower

6) Square Tower (must see)

The Square Tower was built in 1494. It was one of the buildings erected with the aim of protecting the shore of the town against enemy attacks. It is one of the oldest monuments in town with the greatest historical importance. For centuries it has been a protective citadel; at the time it was the residence of the governor of Portsmouth and then a storehouse for gunpowder, since 1584. Then in 1779 it was to be a store for the Royal Navy, and continued to be one up to 1850. Some of the original parts such as fireplaces and windows, were quite well preserved.
Lord Horatio Nelson Statue

7) Lord Horatio Nelson Statue (must see)

Lord Horatio Nelson was, is and will be one of the notable figures of England. He served in England's Royal Navy and during his service, England obtained some of the greatest victories that are counted in the country's history, the main one being the Victory in the Battle of Trafalgar. He is known to have been a man of strong character, very courageous and sometimes cruel in the desire to affirm himself, yet he remains an influential and well-respected figure even today.
Domus Dei

8) Domus Dei (must see)

Domus Dei, or Hospital of Saint Nicholas, was an almshouse and hospice established in 1212 by Pierre des Roches, Bishop of Winchester. It is now also known as the Royal Garrison Church and is an English Heritage property and a listed Ancient Monument. In 1450 an unpopular advisor to the king, Bishop Adam Moleyns of Chichester was conducting a service at the chapel of Domus Dei when a number of naval seamen (resentful of being only partially paid and only provided with limited provisions) burst in to the church, dragged out the bishop and murdered him.

As a result of this the entire town of Portsmouth was placed under the Greater Excommunication, an interdict which lasted until 1508, removed at the request of Bishop Fox of Winchester. One of the conditions for the removal of the interdict included the building of a chantry chapel next to the hospital.

In 1540, like other religious buildings, it was seized by King Henry VIII and until 1560 was used as an armory. After 1560 it became the home of the local military governor. Throughout this time the chapel attached to the hospital remained in use and in 1662 it hosted the wedding of King Charles II and Princess Catherine of Braganza.

Towards the end of the 17th century it fell into disrepair until it was restored in 1767 to become the Garrison church. On 10 January 1941 the buildings of Domus Dei were partially destroyed in an attack by German bombers. The Garrison church remains, albeit roofless, as a popular tourist attraction. It was also used as the set for Horatio Hornblower's wedding in Hornblower:Duty, 2003.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Clarence Pier

9) Clarence Pier (must see)

Clarence Pier was originally constructed in 1861 and boasted a regular ferry service to the Isle Of Wight. It was damaged by air raids during World War II and opened in its current form in 1961.

The main entrance to the pier from the road is via a striking pavilion building with distinctive yellow and blue cladding and a small tower. This originally housed an amusement arcade and cafe although in more recent years, the upper floor has variously been used for "Pirate Pete's" indoor children's playground, a Wimpy bar and a Prize Bingo hall while the 'Golden Horseshoe' amusement arcade remains on the ground floor.

A smaller building, perpendicular but not physically joined to the main pavilion houses another amusement arcade, the "Wheel Of Fortune" and some small gift shops. The upper floor was originally used as a public house, but in 1994 it was converted into 'Jurassic 3001', a futuristic dinosaur themed dark ride. The ride was well-known for its animatronic triceratops, whose head protruded from the side of the building and roared occasionally at passers-by, however this has since been removed.

The attraction closed in 2004, yet all ride signage and theming on the building remained until the end of 2011. The upper floor space previously occupied by this ride is currently being converted to apartments for 2012, according to planning publications.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
D-Day Museum

10) D-Day Museum (must see)

The D-Day Museum is located in Southsea, near Portsmouth in Hampshire, England. Opened in 1984 by HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, it tells the story of Operation Overlord during the Normandy D-Day landings. The museum houses the Overlord embroidery and the display involves a film show including original footage and archive film. The D-Day Museum is home to the Overlord Embroidery and was specially built to hold it. The Overlord Embroidery took five years to complete and measures 272 feet long. It is the largest work of its kind in the world. Visitors are handed a Sound alive device upon entering the museum, which allows them to hear an audio commentary. In addition to the film and embroidery there are also vehicles and displays of other material associated with D-Day and the war. The museum has its own shop and restaurant.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Southsea Castle

11) Southsea Castle (must see)

Southsea Castle (early in its history also known as Chaderton castle ) is one of Henry VIII's Device Forts, also known as Henrician Castles, built in 1544 on the waterfront at the southern end of Portsea Island (an area that later became named Southsea after the castle). The castle was built to guard the eastern entrance to the Solent and entrance to Portsmouth Harbour. Henry VIII watched the Mary Rose sink from near this location.

The Castle was initially constructed in 1544 however there is the possibility that work started the year before. The work was in part paid for by money received as part of the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The castle was constructed around a square keep. In 1960 Portsmouth city council took control of the castle and in 1967 it was opened as a museum. By 1975 the castle was able to attract 99,704 visitors over the course of a year.

Currently the castle is operated as a tourist attraction by Portsmouth City Council. In the summer visitors can explore the castle and ramparts for an entrance fee. The castle can also be hired as a venue for weddings and parties. The area next to the castle, known as Castle Field forms a natural amphitheater and is used for various public events including fairs, music concerts and festivals. Among other exhibits the castle houses a collection of cannon.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

Walking Tours in Portsmouth, England

Create Your Own Walk in Portsmouth

Create Your Own Walk in Portsmouth

Creating your own self-guided walk in Portsmouth is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Historical Dockyard Tour

Historical Dockyard Tour

Naval life has played a crucial role in the development and in the existence of the city. Most of the events that the area experienced are connected to its exit to the sea. This tour is aimed to reflect them in the region's museums and other monuments that will help you discover the beautiful sea history and present port life of the city. Take the tour and explore these beautiful events in...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.2 Km or 0.7 Miles