Portsmouth is a place I’ve long wanted to visit. Aside from London, it’s probably the first town name in England that I remember from my childhood. Why? Because all the ships of the First Fleet that sailed for Van Diemen’s Land (Australia) in May 1787 sailed from Portsmouth.
That First Fleet consisted of:
* Naval escorts - HMS Sirius and HMS Supply
* Convict ships – Alexander, Charlotte, Friendship, Lady Penrhyn, Prince of Wales, Scarborough
* Food and Supply Transports – Golden Grove, Fishburn, Borrowdale
The journey took 252 days in total and I don’t know about you but realizing the food and supply ships hadn’t arrived with the fleet would have made me one nervous convict, if the trip hadn’t worried me enough. (They arrived 6 days behind the convict ships). I don’t know for certain if any of my ancestors came here as convicts, my older relatives all exclaimed we were free settlers in shocked tones. But one day I will get back to tracing the family tree – when I have a year or two to spare. Tracing your genealogy is more time consuming than writing. LOL.
So, we’re in Portsmouth this week for the Wishful Thinking tour of Britain
~ 17 miles—25 minutes from our last stop at Fishbourne Roman Palace.
Portsmouth Historic Dockyards
* Step on the HMS Victory, the memorial to Vice Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson, Britain’s greatest Naval hero. Launched 1765 it is the oldest ship in commission now in dry dock). Visit the Great cabin and the spot where Lord Nelson died
* Come aboard the HMS Warrior, the first iron hulled, armored warship powered by steam as well as sail. Launched in 1860 it is the only surviving member of Queen Victoria’s Black Battle Fleet.
* Walk through the multi-media Trafalgar Experience, part of the Royal Naval Museum’s Victory Gallery, and hear the very latest research on the famous battle.
Portchester Castle, a well-preserved example of a mainly Roman fortification, lies on the northern shore of Portsmouth Harbour, approximately 6 miles north west of Portsmouth city itself. The fortification is the oldest building in the region, and formed the traditional hub around which the village of Portchester and surrounding area were built.
The castle in its most recent form consists of an outer bailey with gates and bastions, and an inner bailey with a moat and gatehouse, palace, tower and keep. The site was originally a simple Roman fortification, though the castle was added to during the Saxon and Medieval periods, and also in the seventeenth century. The original buildings have been extended many times to provide the castle that we see today.
The castle was initially constructed for defence, however it has been used for many different purposes in its 1700-year history. The Thistlethwaite family privately owned the castle from the mid 1600’s until 1984. Today the castle is run by English Heritage and is open as a tourist attraction.
Despite our best efforts to capture that winning lottery ticket for our own, luck seems to be eluding us. Oh well, at least I'm enoying using my imagination for the tour. I've found some great inspiration while reseaching these posts. More to come.