In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Forton like this:
FORTON, a village and a chapelry in Alverstoke parish, Hants. The name is a corruption of Fort-town. The village is suburban to Gosport; stands outside of the fortifications, on the Gosport railway, at the upper end of a sort of lake of Portsmouth harbour; has a post office‡ under Gosport; and contains the railway terminus, the new military prison, and the royal marine barracks. Portraits of George III., by Northcote, Lord Sandwich, by Zoffany, and Lords Barham and St. Vincent, by Beachy, are in the barracks' mess-room. ...
A quondam edifice, on the ground now occupied by the new military prison, was used as a place of confinement for French prisoners during the wars with Buonaparte. James Fort, built in the time of Charles II., and known as Borough Castle, stood on Rat Island, near Forton lake; and some remains of it exist. The chapelry includes the village, and was constituted in 1841. Pop., 6, 425. Houses, 815. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Winchester. Value, £280.* Patron, the Rector of Alverstoke. The church was erected under the new act for building churches; is in the pointed style; and has a very fine organ, which once belonged to Handel. There are a barracks chapel, a Baptist chapel, and a national school.
A Vision of Britain through Time includes a large library of local statistics for administrative units. For the best overall sense of how the area containing Forton has changed, please see our redistricted information for the modern district of Gosport. More detailed statistical data are available under Units and statistics, which includes both administrative units covering Forton and units named after it.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Forton, in Gosport and Hampshire | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 30th November 2015
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