A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1908.
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Rich as Hampshire is in antiquities, the county possesses but one or two villages that can compete with Portchester in archaeological and historical interest. Portchester is situated on the tongue of land which juts out into Portsmouth Harbour from the north. South, east, and west its shores are washed by the tide, while the sides of Portsdown from its northern boundary. The London and South-Western Railway has a station a short distance north of the village, which lies low—scarcely 10 ft. above the sea level— and consists of two principal streets:—West Street on the Fareham road, and the long and straggling Castle Street, which runs southwards and leads to the castle and the harbour.
In the south-east corner of the castle inclosure is the priory church of St. Mary, still used as the parish church. The village pound is still to be seen. The schools were built in 1873 and enlarged in 1893 to accommodate 164 children. There is a brewery near the junction of Castle Street and West Street, and the manufacture of tobacco-pipes and whiting is carried on in the village, which also contains many market gardens. There is a Methodist chapel situated in the centre of the village, and Portchester Farm lies to the north-east, close to the railway. Wyker Farm, formerly a small manor, is in the west of the parish, north of Fareham Lake, and is surrounded by a marsh and lake of the same name. Further north-east is the smaller farm of Little Wyke. Wyke mill-house and a disused windmill is reached by Wyke Path.
The soil of the parish is loam, with a clay subsoil, and chalk on the hills, on which crops of wheat and other cereals are grown. The area is 1,379 acres of land, of which 874½ are arable and 156¾ permanent grass (fn. 1); there are 141 acres of land covered by water, 330 acres of tidal water, and 1,471 acres of foreshore. (fn. 2) The common lands in Portchester were inclosed in 1807. (fn. 3).
The following place names occur in 1538:— 'Whettecrofte, Berestronde, Sawyer's Land, Hall Ground, Purwels, and Ossyldeane.' (fn. 4)
The history of the Roman fortress of Portchester has been already given, so far as it can be ascertained. In Domesday there is mention of a 'halla,' but nothing to suggest that the place was of particular importance. Although the mediaeval castle was commenced early in the twelfth century, there is no reference to it until 1153, when it was granted by charter of Henry II with the manor (q.v.) to William Mauduit's second son Henry. In 1163 the king's treasure was carried from Winchester to Portchester, (fn. 5) presumably to the castle. Perhaps treasure was sent here in connexion with a visit of the king, as he crossed to Normandy frequently at that time, (fn. 6) and was staying at Portchester in 1164, when Rotrou, bishop of Evreux, came to the king to try to mediate between him and Becket in their dispute over the Constitutions of Clarendon. (fn. 7) This place was used by the English kings as the port of embarkation during the long struggle to retain their French possessions. In 1172 Henry II passed through Portchester on his way to France, (fn. 8) where he declared his innocence of Becket's murder before the papal legates, and hoped to come to terms with his rebellious son. During his absence an insurrection was raised in favour of Prince Henry, but the rebels were defeated and the earl of Leicester and his wife the countess Parnel captured and sent to Henry in France. On his return to England the king brought these prisoners back with him and placed them with many others in Portchester Castle in 1174, when there is a record of £16 paid for their keep. (fn. 9) In the same year sums amounting to £158 were paid for knights and serjeants in garrison in the castle, and over £20 for victualling it. (fn. 10) In 1176 Prince Henry, as a pretext to escape to the Continent, professed a desire to make a pilgrimage to the famous shrine of St. James of Compostella. With his wife and retinue he reached Portchester, (fn. 11) but was delayed there for many days by contrary winds. King Henry was celebrating Easter with great pomp at Winchester, whither he summoned young Henry and extracted a promise from him to defer his pilgrimage until his brother Richard had made peace with his barons in Aquitaine. The prince then returned to Portchester, where he had left his wife, and on 20 April they started, reaching Barfleur the next day. (fn. 12) On the accession of Richard I the charge of the castles of Winchester and Portchester was among the things purchased by the bishop of Winchester from the king. The Pipe Rolls of 1177 and 1181 record treasure being sent to Portchester, and that of 1185 proves that Queen Eleanor and her son-in-law, the duke of Saxony, stayed there. (fn. 13)
King John was frequently at the castle. In 1200, after his return from Scotland, he went to France to marry Isabel of Angoulême, staying at Portchester and in its vicinity from 21 to 28 April. (fn. 14) It was to Portchester that he summoned the barons of England in the following May (fn. 15) to set out on an expedition against Philip of France, who had taken up the cause of Prince Arthur and of the young count of La Marche. In 1204 the king transacted business here while making a prolonged visit to Hampshire in April and May, (fn. 16) and here the news of the loss of almost all his French possessions probably reached him. In the following spring he made vast preparations for reconquering them, and went down to Portchester (fn. 17) to meet his troops. Ralph of Coggeshall gives a graphic description of the anger and disappointment of the king when he was obliged to abandon the expedition owing to the opposition of the archbishop of Canterbury and the earl marshal. He left Portchester on 9 June cum magna tristitia, (fn. 18) and went as far as Winchester, only to return to Portsmouth immediately in the hope of carrying out his plans, but the barons remained firm and refused to leave England. A year later his time seems to have been more pleasantly spent, when he wrote to the barons of the Exchequer that 'we lent our brother, the earl of Salisbury, at Portchester, ten shillings to play.' (fn. 19) He was at Portchester on 26 March, 1208, (fn. 20) when the pope's interdict fell on England. The king visited the castle again in 1209 (fn. 21) and 1211. (fn. 22) In June, 1213, he mustered his force at Southhampton, intending to invade France, but the barons would not follow him. (fn. 23) While waiting at Portchester in January, 1214, (fn. 24) he appears to have hunted in the park attached to the castle, as he afterwards sent an order to William de Harcourt to send his hunting dogs to Portsmouth from Portchester. (fn. 25) The castle surrendered to Louis of France at the end of June, 1216. (fn. 26)
Eustace the Monk, a well-known freebooter of the Channel, was detained in the castle with other prisoners in 1214. (fn. 27) John's methods were economical, and they were obliged to provide themselves with food and other necessaries. In 1217 an order was sent to Oliver d'Aubigny to destroy the castle, or if he was unable to level it, to burn it completely. (fn. 28) That this order has a connexion with the troubles at the end of John's reign is to be assumed, but its precise connexion is more difficult to fix. In the same year there is a similar order about Chichester, (fn. 29) in pursuance of a command given by John some years before, and this appears to have been carried out. But perhaps in consequence of the expulsion of Louis and his invading army, the circumstances which made the destruction of Portchester expedient ceased to exist, and the next year the king ordered that the castle should be repaired. (fn. 30) It had been perhaps in preparation for the expedition to Poitou that Henry III had his armour brought to Portchester in 1224, paying four knights 20s. each for carrying it there, (fn. 31) and four 'doles' of wine taken as booty were hurriedly ordered to be sent there against the king's arrival on 13 July. (fn. 32) Henry summoned his vassals to meet him at Ports mouth in October, 1229, for another French campaign, but his ships being insufficient he spent a few days at Portchester and Portsmouth and returned to London. (fn. 33) He appears to have landed here when returning from France in 1243, (fn. 34) after the battles of Taillebourg and Saintes, where he barely escaped capture. During the French wars the constables were responsible for keeping the castle supplied with arms and provisions, ready to be shipped abroad. The neighbouring forest supplied oaks, from which as many as eighty bridges and 600 good hurdles were ordered to be made at one time for the castle. (fn. 35) The sheriff of London was required to provide carts to carry tents to Portchester, (fn. 36) and there are many records of large quantities of provisions being stored there. In 1320, when the younger Despenser was constable, he found so much wine that it had become 'corrupt and putrid.' With characteristic tyranny he detained certain citizens of Winchester and Salisbury until they agreed to buy the wine at £3 per tun. (fn. 37)
Edward I does not appear to have visited Portchester, although he issued orders for its repair, and in 1306 Robert Wychard, bishop of Glasgow, and other Scotch prisoners, (fn. 38) were kept in chains in the castle. The king made a grant of part of the revenues of the castle, as well as of the manor (q.v.), to Queen Eleanor, (fn. 39) in dower, and a similar grant was made by Edward II to Queen Margaret. (fn. 40)
During the reign of Edward II there were many rumours of an invasion, and the castle was kept fully equipped and in constant repair. In 1325 Robert de Hausted was appointed to the custody of the tower, with its 'armour, springalds, engines and other munition,' so that if need be he should apply all the force that he was able to the custody of the outer bailey. (fn. 41) On any appearance of danger from a foreign fleet or otherwise the castle was to be garrisoned with men-at-arms, horses, and footmen of the parts adjoining, and all spies within the precincts of the castle were to be arrested. (fn. 42) Edward II visited the castle for the first time in October, 1321, (fn. 43) after a visit to Sheen. Three years later, when the Queen went to France with her son and there was talk of war between the two countries, Edward spoke of leading an expedition in person. With this intention, probably, he spent many weeks at Portchester in July, September, and October, 1324, (fn. 44) and again in the following May. (fn. 45) In August, 1326, (fn. 46) he issued writs of array from the castle and took other precautions. (fn. 47) On 2. September following, while there, he was informed where the queen was likely to land, and directed the march of his forces to the Orwell. (fn. 48) He had, however, great difficulty in collecting troops. Some footmen, archers, and others in Sussex were ordered to join him at Portchester to set out upon the sea in his service, but the men refused and were imprisoned. (fn. 49) The king, being unable to prevent the queen's advance, retreated and shortly afterwards was taken prisoner. Queen Isabel received a much larger grant for life of the revenues of the castle than the previous queens had had, 'in furtherance of a resolution of parliament, for her services in the matter of the treaty with France and in suppressing the rebellion of the Despensers and others.' (fn. 50)
Edward III usually stayed at Southwick Priory on his passages to France, (fn. 51) but he was at Portchester for several weeks in 1346 (fn. 52) when preparing for the expedition in which he was to win Crecy and successfully besiege Calais. For more than sixty years after this, no interesting events centre round Portchester, although the post of constable was coveted by such men as Roger Walden, archbishop of Canterbury, (fn. 53) and John Tiptoft, earl of Worcester, who was made constable of England and of Portchester in the same year, 1462. (fn. 54) His ancestor, Robert de Tiptoft, had been governor of the castle 200 years before. (fn. 55) The custody of Portsmouth was joined to that of Portchester in the fifteenth century, (fn. 56) and so continued, although separated for a time by Charles I. (fn. 57) In 1415 the castle was filled with soldiers assembled by Henry V for his invasion of France to recover his 'ancient rights.' Among them were Richard, earl of Cambridge, Henry, Lord Scrope of Masham, and Sir Thomas Grey of Heton, whose plot to place the earl of March on the throne during the king's absence was discovered while they were at Portchester. (fn. 58) Upon their confession they were taken to Southampton and there beheaded.
Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn were at Portchester in October, 1535. 'The king and queen were very merry in Hampshire,' (fn. 59) and hawked daily. The last royal visitor was Elizabeth, who held her court at the castle. (fn. 60) From this time the story of Portchester Castle is that of a military prison and hospital. In the sixteenth century it was bought by Lord Sussex for £180, (fn. 61) and Charles I granted the castle and vill of Portchester to Sir William Uvedale and his heirs. (fn. 62) Though frequently leased by the crown afterwards it remained in private hands, Uvedale Corbett holding it in 1691, (fn. 63) and Francis Whitehead in 1747. (fn. 64) In 1563 Sir F. Knollys wrote to Sir William Cecil, pointing out the advantages of the castle as a place for a muster, there being space for lodging 2,000 men. (fn. 65) In the autumn it was used as a hospital for the sick and wounded from the French war, of whom Sir A. Ponyngs gave a list, with the charges amounting to £4 4s. 10d. daily. (fn. 66) In 1628 a suggestion was made to use it as a storehouse for the Navy, (fn. 67) but the idea was abandoned, and twenty-five years afterwards, when Blake's victories in the Channel brought many prisoners to England, the Navy Commissioners recommended the castle as a naval hospital, the situation, air, and water being good, but it 'may cost as much to repair as a new house.' (fn. 68) During the Civil War some of Sir W. Balfour's 4,000 horse and dragoons were quartered at Portchester, 21 March, 1644. They were probably Sir Arthur Haslerig's cuirassiers, known to fame as The Lobsters from their iron shells, as six days later, 27 March, Sir W. Balfour was leading these against the cavaliers under Lord Hopton at Cheriton. (fn. 69) In 1665, during the war of Charles II, 500 Dutch prisoners were detained in the castle. Thomas Middleton writing to Samuel Pepys complained that the Dutchmen refused to work on the plea that they were servants of the states of Holland and their wives would get no relief from their masters if they worked for the King of England. (fn. 70) The commissioners for victualling proposed to erect a brew-house in the castle in 1712, (fn. 71) but as it was difficult of access to vessels and would be costly in other ways the project was abandoned. Four thousand French prisoners captured during the Seven Years' War were kept here in 1761, (fn. 72) and others during the Napoleonic wars of 1799. (fn. 73) Paterson describes the castle in 1821 as a 'noble pile in form quadrangular and surrounding an area of near 5 acres … and it is in sufficient preservation to be appropriated to the purposes of a military prison, for which use it was rented by the government of the proprietors, and during the last war 5,000 persons were secured here at one time.' (fn. 74) In 1855 the castle was 'examined by Dr. Mapleton and Sir Frederic Smith with a view to ascertain its fitness for conversion into a military hospital. They agreed in returning that it was as unfit for the purpose as could well be. A building ruinous and falling to pieces, badly ventilated, badly drained, without out-houses, its seven rooms 39 ft. by 18 ft. badly lighted, the site low, bleak, with miles of exposed mud lying before it, difficult of access, and containing within its limits the parish church and churchyard, there could scarcely be chosen a less desirable site for the proposed hospital.' (fn. 75) By the end of the eighteenth century the castle had passed with the manor (q.v.) into the hands of the Thistlethwayte family, (fn. 76) and the ruins still remain in their possession.
The Roman walls of Portchester Castle, which stand in an excellent state of preservation, due allowance being made for the patching and repair which their use in the Middle Ages has caused, inclose an area of some nine acres. They have already been described, (fn. 77) and it is unnecessary here to do more than point out that they belong to the latest type of Roman fortress met with in Britain, namely, that in which the defences consist of a wall with towers projecting on the outer face, with no trace of the earthen bank which occurs in the earlier types. On the north and west sides it is still protected by a ditch, and there may have been the like defences on south and east, where now is a sea beach, as it is evident from mediaeval records that the sea has encroached on the land to some extent. To the west, outside the first line of ditch, is a much larger bank and ditch, possibly a pre-Roman earthwork.
The original arrangement of the projecting towers was that there was one set diagonally at each angle of the fortress, and four on each side, except perhaps on the east where there may have been two only, making eighteen towers in all. Of these, two of the angle towers and twelve of the others still stand, and a thirteenth was destroyed as lately as 1790. That the loss of the others was of ancient date is clear from a record of 1369, (fn. 78) when 'all the fifteen turrets' were ordered to be fitted with wooden tops, and a round turret opposite the church otherwise repaired. The angle turret at the north-west must have been destroyed when the mount on which the keep stands was made, early in the twelfth century or late in the eleventh century. The entrances to the fortress were in the middle of the east and west walls, both probably protected by inner rectangular gatehouses, the eastern of which still exists in part. Whether they were covered by external defences is not clear, but there are no traces of drum towers like those flanking the probably coeval west gate of Pevensey.
The position of the mediaeval castle is very like that of Pevensey, set in the north-west corner of the inclosure, (fn. 79) a small piece being walled off to serve as the inner bailey, while the rest of the area within the Roman walls serves as the outer bailey. The Roman wall forms the north and west curtain of the inner bailey, but has been broken through at the north-west angle, and the great keep projects some feet beyond it in both directions. The inner bailey measures 189 ft. east to west by 120 ft. north to south, and is surrounded by a wall 6 ft. thick with a projecting tower at the south-east angle, and a gateway towards the east end of the south wall. There are ranges of buildings, all roofless and in ruin, on the west, south, and east, and a tower within the north-east angle, the buildings formerly on the north side of the bailey, except those belonging to the keep, being entirely destroyed.
The earliest masonry on the site, not reckoning the Roman walls, belongs to the middle of the twelfth century, or perhaps a little later. The first reference to the castle buildings occurs in 1172–4, (fn. 80) 40s. being assigned to the reparacio of the gates and tower of the castle, and £9 for work on the bridge, gates, and wall. The word reparacio, it must be noted, does not generally mean 'repair' in the modern sense, but rather the fitting up of a building, which may be entirely new, so that the entry does not necessarily imply a much earlier date than 1172 for the building of the castle. The lower part of the keep is probably the oldest work, and the east and south curtain walls of the bailey, with the south-east tower and the first 23 ft. of the south gateway, are probably of the time of Henry II. There is also some twelfth-century work in the buildings at the south-west corner of the bailey, and the king's houses in the castle are mentioned in 1192. In the same year £10 was paid to Eyas de Oxeneford for carpenters and workmen at the castle, and in the next year work and repairs to walls and ditches cost a like sum. In 1200 there were further repairs, and in the Close Rolls for 1204–6 the king's chamber at Portchester is mentioned, and the king's houses there in 1208. By this date the magna turris or keep must have assumed its present form, its upper part being an addition of the last years of the twelfth century. The battlements now to be seen on the east and west sides are a late addition, but the tower is now about 100 ft. high. It is divided internally by a central wall running east and west for the full height of the building, and originally contained four floors, the present arrangement of its interior dating from 1793, when it was fitted up to hold French prisoners, many of whom have left their names painted or cut on its walls. The basement has been vaulted in two spans with pointed barrel vaults resting on cross-springers, of which the skewbacks only are now left; the vault was set up in 1398, as appears from the accounts, (fn. 81) and cost £20. The two chambers here were lighted by narrow round-headed windows with double splays, the walls being 8 ft. thick; there are six of these windows in all, two in each of the north, south, and west sides, and the original entrance to the basement was by a newel stair in the south-west angle, the present entrance from the basement of the chapel being probably modern. Access to the basement must therefore have been from the first floor of the keep only. From the existence of windows on the south side, against which a range of buildings now abuts, it seems that the keep was originally free on this side, the twelfth-century 'king's houses' not covering the full length of the west curtain wall.
Against the east face of the tower was set the forebuilding, which seems to have contained three divisions, that to the south being the chapel, with a basement beneath it; that to the north, which projected beyond the Roman wall to the same extent as the north wall of the keep, a room of uncertain use, perhaps a guard-room; while between them was a passage or lobby leading to the round-headed entrance door of the keep. These rooms were all on the first-floor level, and must have been reached from the courtyard by an outer stair occupying much the same position as that which now serves the purpose. Of the chapel only the west end, with a large round-headed recess, and part of the south wall remain. In the latter is a late fourteenth-century doorway leading to a building at the south-east angle of the keep, which overlaps the south wall of the chapel for 8 ft., and to the east of it the jamb of a sixteenth-century window, beneath which is a doorway to the basement, of like date, and the royal arms of Henry VII. Part of a small blocked twelfth-century window is to be seen near the jamb of the sixteenth-century window. The room corresponding to the chapel on the north has had a wide sixteenth-century bay window in its north or outer wall. Over the entrance to the keep, or perhaps to the lobby leading to it, was a tower, called the East Tower in a roll of accounts of 1385. (fn. 82) The first floor of the keep contained the two principal rooms, and was lighted by large round-headed windows, now blocked up. In the south-west angle of the south room is a doorway, now also blocked, to the newel stair which leads from the basement to the battlements, and the entrance to the north room is by a door at the west end of the dividing wall. In the south-east angle of the keep is the circular shaft of a well, which is continued upwards to the upper stories.
In the second floor of the keep are small round-headed lights on the south and west sides, and the weatherings of the original roof are here to be seen, showing two parallel gables running east and west.
The added upper part of the tower has narrow square-headed openings on the north and west, but towards the interior of the castle, on east and south, there are coupled square-headed lights under round-headed inclosing arches. The walls in this upper stage are 4 ft. 6 in. thick, as against 8 ft. in the basement.
There are no traces of original openings in the twelfth-century curtain walls, but the south-east angle tower, which has been divided into two, or perhaps three, stories, and is of irregular plan, narrower at the gorge than at the outer end, has a small blocked round-headed light in its south-east face on the first-floor level. The twelfth-century gatehouse on the south has likewise been of two or three stories lighted by narrow windows on the three projecting sides, and must have been closed in on its north or inner face by a masonry wall carried on an arch, now destroyed, or by a wooden partition. All the twelfth-century work is faced with excellent Binstead stone, and where the facing has not been picked off it remains in very good preservation.
There is no evidence of building in the thirteenth century as far as the actual remains are concerned. In 1220 100s. was paid for the strengthening of the castle, and in the same year the roof of the keep was being covered with lead.
The work next in point of date to be seen at the present time is the vaulted gateway added to the twelfth-century south gateway. This belongs to the first quarter of the fourteenth century, and building accounts (fn. 83) of this time, 1320–1, are extant. They show that work on the north wall of the castle was going on, and a small doorway of this date is to be seen just east of the forebuildings of the keep in this wall, and was doubtless part of the work.
The king's chamber was being roofed, and in the keep some mason's and carpenter's work was being done. Much timber was also cut in the neighbourhood for use in the castle, and the mention of work on the middle gate of the castle and stones for foundation of a bridge within the castle probably refers to the building under notice. It has a pretty ribbed vault, a segmental inner arch, and an outer arch with portcullis grooves, flanked by two massive buttresses. In its east and west walls are small doorways, which must have opened to a berm between the walls and the moat which defended the inner bailey on east and south, and at the outer southern angles of the gate are narrow walls starting diagonally and flanking the bridge head which must have existed at the time. The gate has received two additions since then, one of late fourteenth-century date, 18 ft. long, with an outer archway and portcullis groove, and a seventeenth-century lengthening, making up the total projection from the curtain wall to 67 ft. This latter consists merely of two parallel walls, in the western of which is a recess for the porter's seat. There were apparently two towers over the gate, one over the twelfth-century part, and one probably over the late fourteenth-century addition, known as the Portcullis Tower.
In 1338 a further set of accounts (fn. 84) deals with reroofing the queen's chamber and the knights' chamber and for repairs to the keep, a big crack (crevesce) having formed in the latter, perhaps a predecessor of the present crack at the south-west angle. The barbican is mentioned in this account, and was evidently not new at the time, as an old doorway was now walled up in it; a further mention of the two barbicans goes to show that they were connected with the east and west gates in the outer bailey, otherwise the Roman fort. The 'Brokene Tour' at which a stockade was made was probably one of the Roman turrets which have now disappeared; perhaps that at the south-east angle. There are also provisions for a 'false wall' against a sudden attack from seaward, contra insidias Galiarum. Twelve of the Roman turrets were fitted with wattled boards, and a weak part of the wall was similarly defended. This must mean that a part of the masonry breastwork which ran round the tops of the Roman walls had been destroyed and was now replaced by wattled defences. The roof of the king's hall in the inner bailey having been damaged by a great wind was now repaired.
In 1362 is another list of repairs, (fn. 85) mostly to roofs, the hall, kitchen, larder, &c., being mentioned. A second tower besides the keep is mentioned, probably the south-east tower, and there is an entry about a new water channel between the larder and the kitchen. A number of payments are made, exclusively to carpenters, about the making of a hall, a camera, and a chapel, but there is nothing to show that the hall and chapel were other than timber buildings, and they are not to be confused with the great hall and chapel then in existence. In the Pipe Roll for the same year, (fn. 86) however, the size of the new camera is given as 104 ft. by 25 ft., and it evidently had masonry walls; its length is rather too great for a position on the north or east of the inner ward as at present arranged, but as the north-east tower was not built at this time the difficulty is not insuperable. The rooms mentioned as repaired are: three king's chambers, the queen's chamber, the chamber next the hall, the kitchen, bake-house, and lead-house.
The sea-gate, or east gate of the fort, now received a portcullis; the existing gate seems to have been rebuilt about 1397. (fn. 87) It projects beyond the line of the Roman walls and has diagonal angle buttresses and a rather narrow entrance, but has lost much of its wrought stonework. It is set in front of a rectangular gatehouse built within the walls, the lower parts of which, with its eastern arch, are apparently of Roman date, the arch being semicircular, of one square order, with ironstone and Binstead voussoirs and jambs.
In 1384–6 (fn. 88) a great deal of work was going on. 'Ashtonestour,' at the north-east of the inner bailey, was being fitted with hinges, bolts, &c., and its roof leaded; Sir Robert Assheton was constable in 1376, and this probably gives the year when it was begun. It contains the latrines, its lower part being divided into several wide shoots, the general arrangement of which is still clear, though much of the masonry has been removed. It has an entrance on the west from the now destroyed vaulted ground story of the northern range, and the rampart walk is continued through it at a higher level.
The great quantities of materials accounted for by the returns of 1396–9 show the large extent of work then being carried out. The camera between the keep and Ashton's Tower, although called new in the account, and probably being that built in 1362, was in a ruinous state, and was repaired, or rather rebuilt, the masons working on it through practically the whole of 1396. It is now again completely ruined and destroyed to the foundations.
A list of the stone used is interesting; freestone from Bonchurch, and ragstone or ragplatener stone from Bembridge for the walling, and Beer stone from Devonshire for the details of doors and windows and fire-places. A thousand cart-loads of flints were used, and 1,000 white tiles of Flanders were brought for the fire-backs—les reredoses caminorum— being shipped at Billingsgate in London and taken to the Pool and thence by sea to Portchester. Hearth-tiles were also bought for the fire-places, and a great lime kiln was made at the foot of Portsdown, 14 ft. wide and 11 ft. deep, and filled and burnt six times, producing 800 quarters or 87 cartloads of lime. Chalk was also quarried at Portsdown for the fillings of vaulting and walls. 'Plastureston de Purbik' was used for the plastered partitions between the various rooms.
There was much renewing of leaden roofs, and a lead downpipe was made to carry the water from the roof of the keep. Lead from the dismantled Mere Castle in Wiltshire was brought to be used at Portchester.
The most important entry is that mentioning the setting out and beginning of the present south-west range, containing the hall, kitchen with buttery and pantry, and the rooms adjoining. In the western range most of what exists dates also from this time or a little earlier, as it seems that the fitting up of the chapel east of the keep, and the king's apartments in the west range, preceded the rebuilding of the hall and offices. The south gateway and its vault were repaired at this time, and the second addition to the original gate, already mentioned, probably dates from this repair. The vault here is called 'duplex,' and as the same term is used in speaking of the great outer gate on the west, where both the ground and first story were vaulted, this may have been the case in the south gate also. The vault of the basement in the keep is said to be cum duplici pendente; in this case it may mean 'in two spans.'
In 1398 the hall was far advanced, as oaks for its rafters and for the kitchen are mentioned. An item of oil for preserving its timbers against sun and wind points to the existence of a wooden louvre on the roof, and a later entry shows that there was one over the kitchen. They are called femoralli, fumerels, and were covered with lead, like the roofs. In 1399 glass was being made and painted with shields, badges, and borders, for the windows of the hall, the great chamber, the chapel, the exchequer or treasury room, and the high chamber adjoining it, and also for the windows of the tresancia or passage, the kitchen, and the basement beneath the great chamber; and it is perhaps a sign of Richard's anxiety, amid the dangers and difficulties of the last year of his reign, to see his work finished, that between the feasts of All Saints and the Purification of our Lady the workmen used 26 lb. of candles by working at night.
His buildings still stand, but roofless and floorless, and are the most picturesque part of the castle. The hall was on the first floor, with cellars beneath, and was entered by a flight of steps under a projecting vaulted porch. On either side of the entrance are brackets for lanterns. The square building east of the hall was clearly the kitchen, and there are traces of a large fireplace in its east wall; it was on the ground floor, and there was a stair at the south-west leading from it to the hall. The arrangements of buttery and pantry are not clear, but they may have been below the hall screens. A passage contrived in the north-west angle of the hall (fn. 89) led to the great chamber and private apartments, the queen's chamber being probably at the west end of the hall, and the king's chamber next to the south face of the keep. The Roman bastion west of the queen's chamber, now completely pulled down, seems to have been fitted up as living rooms, and part of a garderobe is still to be seen in the wall. From the king's chamber a passage ran eastwards through the exchequer chamber (if this identification of the building at the south-west angle of the keep is correct) to the chapel. A little older work is incorporated with Richard's buildings, as at the north-west angle of the hall, where part of a late twelfth-century arcade is to be seen, but the greater part of the work seems to have been built from the ground at this time, as the accounts would imply.
There is nothing to show whether anything of importance was done to the building in the next few reigns, but in 1488 a writ (fn. 90) was issued under the privy seal for the delivery of sufficient sums of money to Sir Reginald Bray for the repairing of the castle. Very little work now remains which can be attributed to this time beyond the royal arms on the south wall of the chapel, a doorway and part of a window near by, and the wide window in the north curtain wall near the keep.
The last document of importance which need be quoted here is Norden's survey of the castle in 1609. (fn. 91) It is accompanied by a bird's-eye sketch of the buildings from the south-east, which, though very distorted, shows a good many interesting details. At this time the castle was ruinous, Norden reports, 'by reason the leade hathe beene cutt and imbezeled.' He recommends that the remains of the lead should be removed and a lighter roof-covering substituted, with new roof-timbers. In the great hall, 'verye fayer and spacious,' 'to which was an assent by 4 fayer stone stepps,' the leaded roof was ready to fall. The adjoining rooms were 'maine spacious though darke and malincolie.' Three towers are mentioned, the keep being described as the 'mayne towre,' of four stories 'dowble raunged.' Norden suggests that it should be lowered to half its height, because it 'annoyeth the reste of the howse by raflexe of the chimneye smoake,' but fortunately this was never done.
The range of buildings on the north side of the inner bailey, now entirely ruined, was then standing, but in bad repair. It is described as a building not long since in part newly erected, containing four fair lodgings above and as many below; its windows were unglazed, and its roof had lost its slating. From this it would appear that the 'camera between the keep and Ashton's tower,' repaired or rebuilt in 1396, had been again rebuilt for the most part in the latter years of Elizabeth's reign. On the Roman bastion to the north a chamber was built, as on the south-west bastion. This latter is shown rectangular in Norden's drawing, but this is probably mere convention.
The south gate of the castle was approached by a drawbridge over the ditch in 1609, and flanked by walls running at an obtuse angle towards the main curtain; it seems that the latest or southern extension of the gateway was not at this time in existence. On the annexed plan it is shown, together with the eastern range of the inner bailey, as of sixteenth-century date, but both actually belong to the early years of the seventeenth century.
The eastern range, the walls of which still stand, was built by Sir Thomas Cornwallis, as Norden reports, at a cost of £300 and more, in place of older work of which nothing has been preserved. It was probably quite new at the time of the survey, as in 1608 sixty timber trees were delivered to Cornwallis from the forest of East Bere, evidently for work at the castle. (fn. 92) The design is very simple: of the latest Gothic type with no renaissance detail, with four-centred doorways and three-light mullioned windows with square heads. Norden's drawing shows windows of this kind, with transoms, in the curtain wall at this point. The range is returned along the south curtain wall as far as the gateway, and it is probable that the whole was built to provide suitable accommodation for the officials in charge of the castle, the royal apartments built by Richard II being by now too much out of repair to be fit for use.
There is nothing to show whether there were any buildings in the outer ward of the castle in mediaeval times; in any case, they are not likely to have been of much importance. In the accounts of Sir John Daunce, 1521–27, printed in Archaeologia, xlvii, 335, is an item of £400 paid to Lord Lisle 'upon the buldyng of a stores house at the castell of Porchester, and other causes,' and the foundations of a long buttressed building, 240 ft. by 30 ft., near the south-west angle of the ward, (fn. 93) may be those of the storehouse in question. The barracks built for the French prisoners in the eighteenth century stood along the north side of the ward, between the buildings of the inner ward and the east wall of the Roman fortress.
The great west gate of the castle, now as always the chief entrance to the outer ward, is in a very fair state of preservation, and dates for the most part from the last years of Richard II's reign, though the lower parts of its walls may be older. In the first story are traces of the arrangements of a drawbridge and portcullis, the castle ditch having been doubtless continued from one end of the west side of the fortress to the other. This gate is now the only inhabited part of the castle, being occupied by a caretaker.
The southern ward of the royal forest of Bere, which extended northwards from the Portsdown Hills, was known in early times as Portchester Forest. There are frequent records of gifts of oak timber from the forest, chiefly for the purpose of repairs. In 1232 an order was issued for repairs to two of the king's galleys with timber from 350 oaks in the forest of Portchester. (fn. 94)
In 1269 Master Henry Wade was licensed for the term of his life to hunt with his own dogs the fox, hare, cat, and badger through the forest of Portchester; (fn. 95) and in 1297 a similar grant was made to Thomas Paygnel. (fn. 96) The wood of 'Chalghton' within the forest of Portchester is mentioned in 1307. (fn. 97)
In 1341 the forest of Portchester was worth nothing because 'the oaks were old and short, and for the most part rotten and bear nothing.' (fn. 98) Therefore, in 1347, an order was issued for the re-afforestation of Portchester, with a proviso saving the rights of commoners, (fn. 99) the proviso being confirmed in 1466. (fn. 100)
Portchester Forest was under the control of the warden of the castle till the fifteenth century, when it was attached to the forest of Bere.
It seems possible that Portchester was a royal borough growing up round the castle, and granted with the castle and manor. Nevertheless, evidence of any borough is very scanty; there is no charter of incorporation, and no members were ever returned to Parliament. As early, however, as 1177, Portchester rendered an aid of 10 marks, which was about as much as Andover or Basingstoke, (fn. 101) and in 1258 Hugh de Camoys was holding land in chief in Portchester for annual rent and for such serjeanty as he and 'all the other burgesses of the town of Portchester were bound to pay'; namely, to find twelve men to serve for fifteen days in time of war at Portchester Castle. (fn. 102)
In 1233 a command was issued to the constable of Portchester Castle that the 'men of Porchester' should be allowed to have the same common of pasture for beasts in the wood of Kingesden which they had had before the king took the wood into his custody. (fn. 103)
The 'men of Porchester' were granted free turbary in Southmore in 1260; (fn. 104) and in 1273 an order was issued to the bailiffs and men of Portchester to pay their rents to Eleanor, the king's mother. (fn. 105) The town of Portchester was assigned in dower to Margaret, sister of Philip, king of France, in 1299, (fn. 106) and in 1316 the liberty (fn. 107) of Portchester was 'Domini regis sed in manu Margarete regine.' (fn. 108)
The king granted the custody of Portchester town to Hugh le Despenser in 1320; (fn. 109) but after the rebellion of the Despensers in 1327 and the consequent forfeiture of their lands, Portchester was granted to Queen Isabella for life in furtherance of a resolution of Parliament that for her services in the matter of the treaty with France, and in suppressing the rebellion of the Despensers, the lands assigned to her by way of dower should be increased in value to £2,000 a year. (fn. 110) Richard earl of Arundel was holding the custody of Portchester town in 1341, (fn. 111) but he afterwards granted it to John de Edynton, which grant the king confirmed in 1361. (fn. 112)
Ralph de Camoys was holding the town of Portchester at the time of his death in 1421. (fn. 115)
After Edward IV's marriage with Elizabeth Woodville, he granted titles and lands to many of her relations. Among other grants the custody of Portchester town was entrusted to Anthony Woodville, the queen's brother, for life; (fn. 116) and afterwards to Edward Woodville. (fn. 117)
From this time onwards the descent of Portchester town seems to follow that of the manor (q.v.).
In the reign of Edward the Confessor there were three manors in PORTCHESTER, held by three freemen of the king, but at the time of the Domesday Survey William Mauduit held them as one manor. (fn. 118) Mr. Round has thrown fresh light on its early history and connexion with the chamberlainship of the treasury and exchequer (fn. 119) by showing that it passed to William's son and heir Robert, after whose death it was promised to his younger brother William by a remarkable charter of Henry II, issued in 1153, before his accession, in which Portchester Castle and its appurtenant lands are definitely mentioned; but evidently Henry did not fulfil his promise, (fn. 120) as in 1230 the king granted two-thirds of the manor to Peter des Roches, bishop of Winchester, who gave them to the abbey of Titchfield. (fn. 121) The remaining third part was granted by Edward I to his mother Eleanor in dower in 1272. (fn. 122)
John Randulf was granted the custody of the king's manor and castle of Portchester in 1330 for the payment of a rent to the king of 25 marks. (fn. 123)
The abbey of Titchfield (fn. 124) continued to hold their part of the manor of Portchester until the Dissolution, when it passed, by grant of Henry VIII in 1537, to Thomas Wriothesley earl of Southampton, (fn. 125) who, however, in the following year reconveyed it to the king, who thus held the whole manor. (fn. 126)
The manor remained in the possession of the crown until 1632, when it was granted to Sir William Uvedale, (fn. 127) son of Sir William Uvedale, who was sheriff of Hampshire in 1594, and Mary daughter of Sir Richard Norton. (fn. 128) On his death the manor of Portchester was divided between his two daughters and co-heirs Victoria, who married Sir Richard Corbett in 1663, and Elizabeth, first the wife of Sir William Berkeley, and afterwards of Edward Howard earl of Carlisle. (fn. 129)
One-half of the manor passed, on the death of Elizabeth countess of Carlisle, to her son Charles earl of Carlisle, by whom it was conveyed to Mr. Norton of Portchester Castle, (fn. 130) the ancestor of the Thistlethwaytes of Southwick, who still own the manor. (fn. 131)
In 1775 this half was evidently sold by the trustees of the Rashleighs to Robert Thistlethwayte, (fn. 134) and the two halves of the manor were united in the hands of the Thistlethwaytes, whose descendant Mr. Alexander Thistlethwayte, of Southwick Park, is the present lord of the manor.
At the time of the Domesday Survey there was a mill in Portchester worth 30 pence, (fn. 135) and at the present day Wyker Mill still exists in the tithing of Wyker.
In 1294 an order was issued that a market should be held in the king's manor of Portchester on Saturday in every week, and that a fair lasting three days was to be held there on the eve, day, and morrow of the Assumption yearly, but these have long since been discontinued.
WYKER or WICCOR
WYKER or WICCOR in Portchester was probably among the lands in Portchester granted to the abbey of Titchfield in 1230, (fn. 138) though not mentioned by name in the charter of Henry III. Described as the manor of Wykes in Portchester, it was included among the possessions of the abbey at the time of the Dissolution, (fn. 139) and was afterwards granted to Thomas earl of Southampton for life. (fn. 140) At his death in 1550 it reverted to the crown. (fn. 141) It was granted in 1556 to John White of Southwick, (fn. 142) after which it followed the descent of the manor of Southwick (q.v.).
MORALLS in Portchester seems to have been among the possessions of the priory of Southwick until the time of the Dissolution, but it is not known how that house obtained it. At the suppression of Southwick Priory it was granted, in 1559, to John White, when it was described as lately belonging to the priory of Southwick. (fn. 143) From this date the descent follows that of the manor of Southwick (q.v.)
The church of OUR LADY, PORTCHESTER, was given by Henry I in 1133 to his new house of Austin Canons, as their priory church, and from its scale and arrangements the present building must have been built for the royal foundation. The site for some reason or other was soon found to be inconvenient, and between 1145 and 1153 the priory was removed to Southwick. (fn. 144) So that the date of the building can be set within narrow limits; and as there is nothing to suggest a pause in the work, it is probable that the whole church was completed about the time of Henry's grant.
It is cruciform, faced with wrought stone throughout, with presbytery 19 ft. long by 21 ft. wide, central tower 21 ft. 6 in. by 18 ft. 3 in. (28 ft. by 25 ft. external measurement), north transept 23 ft. 2 in. by 18 ft. 3 in., with eastern chapel, and nave 84 ft. 9 in. by 23 ft. (23 ft. 6 in. at the west). The south transept is destroyed, but probably had an eastern chapel like that of the north transept. On the south side lay the cloister and its surrounding buildings, but nothing of these is now to be seen above ground except the traces of abutment against the church, and some arches of a twelfth-century arcade on the upper floor, at the south end of the eastern range, where it joined the Roman wall of the fortress. They evidently formed part of the reredorter, and shoots through the wall are to be seen below them. The Roman wall was cut away to some depth for their insertion, and it has been argued from this that the monastic buildings must have been left standing after the removal of the priory, as otherwise the weakening of the wall thus caused would have been made good during the time that the walls were used as the outer defences of the mediaeval castle.
The church itself seems to have suffered but little from its abandonment by the canons. The doorways to the cloisters are walled up, as is a large doorway on the north of the nave, and the south transept, as before noted, is pulled down. For the rest, the structure can never have been badly neglected, but the presbytery has lost its vault and has been in part rebuilt in Elizabethan days, and it is recorded in a petition of 1705 to Queen Anne that the church, having been used for the keeping of prisoners of war in Charles II's time, 'was by their means set on fire and for the greatest part ruined.' This, however, can only apply to the roofs and fittings. The church was repaired in 1888.
The chancel—more accurately the presbytery—was vaulted in one square bay, the eastern vaulting shafts remaining intact. The east wall was probably entirely rebuilt, and the north wall refaced externally in the end of the sixteenth century, the three-light east window being of this date. On the north and south walls are plain round-headed arcades which have lost their springers and shafts, and to the west of them are doorways, that on the north now leading to the eastern chapel of the north transept, and that on the south side being blocked; they must have served as the ostia presbyterii, the upper entrances to the quire, while the church was used by the canons.
The tower, which is of two stages, the upper stage rising but little above the ridges of the nave and transept roofs, stands on four semicircular arches, having a roll between two square orders, and a label ornamented with billets. Over them at the level of the belfry floor is a projecting course of masonry with the same ornament. The jambs have central halfround shafts and engaged shafts in the outer order, and the capitals are chiefly of the volute type, others being scalloped. The southern arch is blocked up, and the loss of the south transept has weakened the tower so that the east and west arches have cracked slightly, but in the main the work is in very good preservation. The north transept was designed for a vault of a single bay, the vaulting-shafts remaining at the angles, but there is nothing to show that it was ever completed, the north window of the transept indeed proving the contrary, if it is in its original position, as its head is too high to be cleared by the vault.
On the east of the transept is a rectangular chapel rebuilt in 1864 on the old foundations, and used as a vestry, and entered through a doorway on the south, its west arch towards the transept being blocked by a modern stone screen. This arch is ornamented on the west side with a hatched label and zigzag on the outer order. Near the south-east angle of the transept are traces of the passage from the upper entrance to the quire, which led through a doorway to the transept at the back of the north-eastern pier of the tower.
On the lower part of the north wall of the transept is a plain wall arcade of which only the arches are old, and in the north and west walls are single round-headed windows with jamb shafts, labels with lozenge ornament, and a radiating pattern on the arches, much like that in the earlier work at Petersfield. At the north-west angle is a circular stair in a projecting square turret, leading by a passage over the ceiling of the transept to the upper stage of the tower, and at the south-west angle of the transept is a modern doorway.
The nave is of the plainest character, with four round-headed windows on the north and a central doorways, of which only the inner arch now remains. It was set in a gabled projection 19 ft. long, and must have been a conspicuous feature, but has been entirely effaced on the outside. In the south wall are five round-headed windows, the lower parts of the first four having been partly blocked by the cloister roof, while the fifth is completely blocked, and from its position within the lines of the western range of claustral buildings must always have been so. The eastern and western procession doors to the cloister are also blocked up, and there is evidence of a slight change of position in the eastern door, two round-headed arches remaining in the wall. The monastic quire must clearly have been to the east of these doors, and therefore under the tower, whose side arches it probably completely filled. Marks of a rood screen and loft are to be seen at the east of the nave, and low in the north wall at the east end is a small window which must have lighted the altar here under the loft. The nave is wider than the presbytery or tower, though the church is accurately cruciform, the extra width being obtained by thinning the north and south walls in the nave, while keeping their outer faces on the same plane as those of the tower.
The west wall of the nave, on the other hand, is 5 ft. thick without the wide buttresses, and has a central doorway of three orders with twisted shafts, and above it a wall arcade of three bays, the central bay pierced with a window. Both doorway and arcade are very richly ornamented, and the whole is a valuable example of a twelfth-century west front almost unaltered.
The fittings of the church are mostly modern, but the nave roof is old, of trussed rafter form. In 1888 a number of fifteenth-century oak bench-ends were found serving as footings for the pews in the nave, and one of them is now in the chancel. On the south wall of the nave is a board with the arms of Queen Elizabeth, dated 1577, and on the north another with those of Queen Anne, 1710.
The font at the west of the nave is an unusually fine twelfth-century specimen, (fn. 145) circular, with a band of interlacing foliage over an arcade of interesting round-headed arches. The top only is old, the lower part dating from 1888, and replacing a brick and plaster imitation of the original work. In 1845 the original base was in existence, and is described as having the baptism of Christ sculptured on it.
The only monument of interest is that to Sir Thomas Cornwallis, groom porter to Queen Elizabeth, 1618, with an alabaster half-effigy in armour, and heraldry over.
There are three bells, the treble of 1633, with the initials R.V. I.H. W.W.; the second, inscribed 'In God is my hope,' 1632, with the founder's initials I.H.; and the tenor of 1589, inscribed 'Obey God and the prince,' by John Wallis of Salisbury.
The plate consists of a communion cup, c. 1850, with paten and flagon of 1854, and a spoon of foreign make.
The first book of the registers goes from 1607 to 1640, and the second from 1654 to 1683. The third, a paper book, contains the entries for 1684–93, and the fourth for 1694–1803, the marriages ceasing in 1751. The fifth is the printed marriage register 1755–1812, and the sixth and seventh contain respectively the baptisms, 1805–12, and the burials 1804–12.
There is no mention of a church at Portchester at the time of the Domesday Survey. One must have existed here, however, early in the twelfth century, for in 1133 Henry I founded in the church of St. Mary, Portchester, a priory of Austin canons, afterwards known as the priory of Southwick.
Its foundation charter assigned to the canons the appropriation of the church at Portchester. (fn. 146)
The advowson and rectorial tithes remained with the prior and convent of Southwick until the Dissolution. (fn. 147) Tithes of wheat and barley in Portchester parish were granted to Peter Tichborne in 1553. (fn. 148) In 1558 they were given to the bishop of Winchester, (fn. 149) who held them until 1587, when the tithes were granted to the earl of Sussex for the term of twenty-one years. (fn. 150) The earl died in 1593, (fn. 151) and in 1595 they were granted to John Wingfield, (fn. 152) in whose family they remained until 1635, when Sir Richard Wingfield, Lord Powerscourt, died seised of the tithes. (fn. 153)
The advowson was held by the king (fn. 154) until 1865, (fn. 155) when it was bought by Thomas Thistlethwayte, the lord of the manor, (fn. 156) and passed with the manor (q.v.) to his descendant Mr. Alexander Thistlethwayte, of Southwick Park.
In 1807, under the provisions of the Inclosure Act, 48 George III, cap. 63, an allotment of 6 acres 3 roods 36 poles was awarded to the churchwardens in respect of certain lands known as the Church Lands formerly existing in the parish, described in a terrier dated 1728. The rent of about £20 a year is carried to the churchwardens' general account.
In 1826 a site and building thereon were conveyed for the purposes of a Methodist chapel. By an order of the Charity Commissioners, 2 October, 1867, trustees were appointed, and the property vested in them upon the trusts of 'The Wesleyan Chapel Model Deed.'