In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Southsea like this:
SOUTHSEA, a suburb and four chapelries in Portsea parish, Hants. The suburb lies on the SE side of Portsmouth, on the coast, opposite Spithead; occupies a quondam barren common, all flat, and fringed with a fine beach; was only a small hamlet at the commencement of the present century; forms now a compact mass of streets, terraces, and handsome villas; includes a new town, begun about 1860, divided into two portions, called Havelock Park and Nelsonville, and promising to be highly ornamental; is a sea-bathing resort, with many amenities and charming views; and has a post-office‡ under Portsmouth, a branch railway, several hotels, a castle, a large bathing establishment, a splendid esplanade, an obeliskal memorial of the Crimean war, a coastguard station, four churches, and a number of dissenting chapels and public schools. ...
The branch railway is a line of two miles, through the town, from the South-western at Union bridge; and was authorized in Aug. 1867. One of the hotels bears the name of the South sea Beach Mansion; contains 140 rooms, including 85 bedrooms; and was built in 1866. The castle was originally a blockhouse, erected by Henry VIII.; was taken by the parliamentarians in 1642; was reconstructed, modernized, and converted into a strong fort in 1814; contains accommodation for 200 men; and includes a beacon-tower, with a fixed light 31 feet high, seen at the distance of 9 miles. St Paul's church was built in 1822, at a cost of £15,970; and is in a plain pointed style. St. Jude's church was built in 1851; is in the later English style; and has a fine, lofty, conspicuous spire. St. Simon's church was built in 1867, at a cost of £4,000; and is in the decorated English style.-The four chapelries are St. Paul, St. Jude, St. Bartholomew, and St. Simon. Pop. of St. P., 10,674; of St. J., 6,301; of St. B., 2,600. The livings are p. curacies in the diocese of Winchester. Value of St. P., £150; of St. J., £650;* of St. B. and St. S. not reported. Patron of St. P., the Vicar of Portsea; of St. J., the Executors of the late T. E. Owen, Esq.; of St. B., the Bishop of Winchester; of St. S., not reported, See Portsea and Portsmouth.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Southsea, in Portsmouth and Hampshire | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 26th April 2017
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