In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Portchester like this:
PORCHESTER, or Portchester, a village and a parish in Fareham district, Hants. The village stands on a small peninsula of the N W of Portsmouth harbour, under Portsdown hill, near the Portsmouth and Southampton railway, 5 miles N W by N of Portsmouth; was known to the ancient Britons as Caer Peris, to the Romans as Portus Magnus, to the Saxons as Port-ceastre; was connected, by Roman roads, with Regnumor Chichester, with Venta Belgarum or Winchester, and with Clausentum or Bittern, near Southampton; is believed to have been, for a time, the principal station of the Roman navy in Britain; was practically the cradle of Portsmouth, and of all the other seats of populationaround Portsmouth harbour; has one of the most interesting ancient castles in England; gives the title of Baron to the Earl of Carnarvon; and has a post-office under Fareham, and a railway station. ...
The castle is supposed to have been preceded by an ancient Britishfort; occupies an area of nearly 5 acres; shows characters of Roman, Saxon, and Norman architecture; is of quad-rangular outline, 620 feet by 610; has exterior Romanwalls, from 8 to 12 feet thick, and in parts 18 feet high; includes 17 small round towers, Norman gateways, akeep 115 feet by 65, a great tower 58 feet by 57, and avariety of other parts, with some interior features so lateas the time of Elizabeth; was held, in the time of Edward I., by Queen Margaret; was often visited by King John and Edward II.; made no figure in the wars orchanges of the middle ages; was used for the confinement of from 3,000 to 5,000 prisoners of war, during the warwith Buonaparte; belonged once to the Nortons; and belongs now to T. Thistlethwayte, Esq. The parish comprises 1, 374 acres of land, and 1, 575 of water. Real property, £3, 852. Pop., 771. Houses, 171. The property is divided among a few. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Winchester. Value, £223. Patron, T. Thistlethwayte, Esq. The church stands in the outercourt of the castle; is supposed to occupy the site of thesacellum of the Roman prætorium; was the church ofan Angustinian priory, founded about 1133 by Henry I., and removed to Southwick by Henry II.; was originallycruciform, with a low central tower; lost one of its transepts, and was partly rebuilt; retains very interestingportions of its original Norman architecture; and was restored, to a considerable extent, in 1865. There are Wesleyan and Primitive Methodist chapels.
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 Portchester has changed, please see our redistricted information for the modern district of Fareham. More detailed statistical data are available under Units and statistics, which includes both administrative units covering Portchester and units named after it.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Portchester, in Fareham and Hampshire | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 19th May 2013
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