- The Sandringham Hotel offers the best value Rooms in Portsmouth – From Just £25 a night we offer over 50 comfortable ensuite rooms to match your needs and budget! The Sandringham was originally built by the famous architect Tomas Owen. Throughout Southsea you will often see grand Georgian houses typical of the era. The Sandringham is a typical example with beautifully proportioned rooms and elegant ceilings.
The Sandringham occupies a prominent position overlooking Southsea Seafront and the Solent, with views of the Isle of Wight beyond. The bizarre vision of ships seemingly sailing across the common may stop the casual visitor in their tracks, who on closer inspection, will realise that it is only the ships sailing along the channel into Portsmouth Harbour.
Southsea is less well known than its close neighbour, Portsmouth and is often confused as being within Portsmouth. Southsea is actually a town in its own right and occupies the southerly tip of Portsea Island. Southsea gained it name from Southsea Castle, which was built in 1544 by Henry VIII. However it was not until 1809 when a new suburb began to grow, that it became known as Southsea.
The graceful houses that Thomas Owen built were occupied mainly by the Officers and their families, serving with the Royal Navy in Portsmouth. Even to this day Southsea still has a slightly more snooty attitude to its larger neighbour.
Portsmouth has an amazing history and is the Home of the Royal Navy.
History of Portsmouth
1100s – 1300s
Portsmouth is commonly regarded as having been founded in 1180 by Jean de Gisor after he bought the manor of Buckland in 1170. It is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1090 detailing Bocheland (Buckland), Copenore (Copnor) and Frodentone (Fratton).
On May 2, 1194, Richard I gave Portsmouth its first Royal Charter granting permission for the city to:
- hold a fifteen day annual fair
- hold weekly markets
- set up a local court to deal with minor matters
- be exempt from paying the annual tax of £18 a year, allowing the money to be used for local matters
The city’s coat of arms features a crescent and an eight-pointed star and were probably inspired by the seals of King Richard and William de Longchamps.
In 1200, King John issued another charter to Portsmouth reaffirming the rights and privileges awarded by his brother Richard. King John’s desire to invade Normandy led to Portsmouth being established as a permanent naval base.
Construction of the first docks was started by William of Wrotham in 1212 and since then Portsmouth has claimed to be the traditional home of the Royal Navy.
1400s – 1600s
In 1415, Henry V carried out the first “fleet review” at Spithead – before sailing to war against the French. He ordered a wooden Round Tower be built at the mouth of the harbour in 1418, which was completed in 1426. During the reign of Henry VII, in 1495, the world’s first dry dock was constructed. It remained in service until 1623. His son, Henry VIII had the Round Tower rebuilt out of stone and a Square Tower was also built.
The Mary Rose capsized off Portsmouth on July 19, 1545, with the loss of nearly 700 soldiers and sailors as a horrified Henry watched from Southsea.
Plague affected more than half the population of the Portsmouth area in 1558 – and returned in 1563 to kill 300 people. It seriously hit the area again in 1625.
In 1628, George Villiers, the Duke of Buckingham, was assasinated in what is now 11 High Street by John Felton, who was hanged for the crime.
Fourteen years later, Parliamentary forces captured “Royalist” Southsea Castle during the English Civic War.
Charles 11 married Catherine of Braganza by proxy in Portsmouth in 1662. Peter the Great, the Emperor of Russia, visited the dockyard in 1698.
In 1751, the first known book to be published in Portsmouth, “The Geese in Disgrace,” was a satire on the Town Council. Eight years later, General Wolfe sailed from Portsmouth to to Canada on an ill-fated expedition to capture Quebec. In 1765, an enormous meteorite disintegrated over the city. Paving of the city’s streets was completed in 1773 at a cost of £8,886. Two years later, Captain Cook arrived in Portsmouth aboard the Endeavour after circumnavigating the world.
In March 1777, arsonist “Jack the Painter” (James Hill) was hanged 60ft high outside the main gate for trying to destroy the dockyard.
1979 saw two mutinies in the Royal Navy after clashes between seamen and officers over pay and conditions. The Spithead mutiny ended in a royal pardon for the crew.
In 1787, Captain Bligh of the Bounty set sail from Portsmouth. The first fleet of transport taking convicts to Botany Bay left Portsmouth in HMS Sirius – and the following year set up the first colony in Australia.
Admiral Lord Nelson left Portsmouth in 1805 onboard HMS Victory to command the Royal Navy in the Battle of Trafalgar on October 21. It was the most significant naval engagement of the Napoleonic Wars and the pivotal naval battle of the 19th century. Nelson was fatally wounded in a famous victory, which resulted in the Royal Navy remaining unchallenged as the world’s foremost naval power for the next 100 years.
Also in 1805, the first steam carriage, built for 12 people, was seen in Portsmouth. The following year engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel was born here. In 1812, arguably the other greatest known Portmuthian, author Charles Dickens, was born in a house which is now a museum in his honour.
In 1819, 500 city workers emigrated to America. Some 3,626 other residents were on Poor Relief in the parish of Portsea. Gas lighting was introduced in areas of Portsmouth in 1821, and the Portsmouth and Arundel Canal opened here the following year. Arundel Street, in the city centre, took its name from the canal.
Portsmouth was hit by an earthquake tremor in 1835. The new Portsmouth Borough Police was established a year later. In 1842, the last mail coaches visited the city as the first horse omnibus started. In 1845, the last duel in England was fought in Gosport from a challenge issued in Portsmouth – and the loser died in Old Portsmouth.
In 1869/70, 1,000 dockyard workers emigrated to Canada. A census showed that Portsmouth’s population was 113,569. In 1874, a horse tramway service opened from Old Portsmouth to North End. Rudyard Kipling lived in Campbell Road, Southsea, until 1877, by which time a police report showed there were 333 public houses and 528 beerhouses in Portsmouth. The 15-acre Victoria Park opened in April 1878, in honour of The Queen. In 1889, Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, lived in Southsea.
In 1904, Captain Scott sailed from Portsmouth on his doomed expedition to the South Pole. Former British Prime Minister James Calllaghan, was born in Portsmouth in 1912, followed 13 years later by actor and “Goon” Peter Sellers.
Pompey won the FA Cup for the first time in 1939 and held it for a record six years because of the outbreak of World War Two, during which the city was devastated by German bombers in the blitz.
Both Southsea beach and Portsmouth Harbour were military embarkation points for the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944. Southwick House, just north of Portsmouth, was chosen as the headquarters for the Supreme Allied Commander, General Eisenhower during D-Day.
On 17 May 2008 Pompey won the FA Cup for a second time at Wembley in a thrilling final against Cardiff FC. Over 100,000 people watched the event on a big screen on Southsea Common and the following day 200,000 lined the streets of the city to welcome the victorious team home.