See Portsmouth through history

Inspire your family with a journey to England’s past


AD 501

Portsmouth is (allegedly) first founded by Port the pirate and his two sons, Bieda and Mægla, after they arrive by ship and slay a local nobleman.

DO IT: Head to Clarence Pier, where Pirate Pete’s play area will entertain young wannabe Jack Sparrows.


Portsmouth's first real church – a chapel dedicated to Thomas Becket – is built by Augustinian monks.

DO IT: Visit the Portsmouth Anglican Cathedral, which stands on the site of the original chapel, and has been attacked, rebuilt, extended and renovated over the subsequent centuries.


Portsmouth receives its first royal charter from Richard I (Richard the Lionheart).

DO IT: More than 800 years on, take to Portsmouth's Millennium Trail, which opens up previously off-limits areas of waterfront and brings together the maritime history of the city.


The Mary Rose sinks – with Henry VIII watching on from the ramparts of Southsea Castle.

DO IT: See the flagship carrack-style vessel on display at the new Mary Rose Museum and stand where Henry did at Southsea.


The 'Duke of York and Albany's maritime regiment of Foot' is formed – the origins of the Royal Marines, the amphibious division of the infantry. It is formed in London, but has strong links to Portsmouth.

DO IT: Try out commando training at the Royal Marines Museum, located in the Officers' Mess of the former barracks in Southsea. The museum looks back at the history of the division, and what it’s like to be a marine in the 21st century.


Nelson sails off from Portsmouth to fight the Battle of Trafalgar. He is shot, and dies on 21 October aboard his flagship, HMS Victory – now docked in the city.

DO IT: Follow the Nelson Trail round the city. Interpretation panels line the route from Landport Gate to the Victory Anchor on Clarence Esplanade, linking sites associated with the Lord Admiral. Then visit his flagship, HMS Victory, to see where he died.


Charles Dickens is born on 7 February at 1 Mile End Terrace

DO IT: Visit the Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum, located in the very Regency house in which he was born. See Dickens memorabilia and, on the first Sunday of each month (April-September), hear readings from his works.


HMS Warrior launched – powered by steam and sail, she becomes, for a short time, the largest, fastest and most powerful ship on the seas.

DO IT: Climb aboard HMS Warrior – berthed at Portsmouth's Historic Dockyard – to experience life as a Victorian sailor: sit at the mess table, join a gun drill and watch her great engine whirr.


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle creates his famous detective Sherlock Holmes while working and writing in Portsmouth

DO IT: Visit the Study in Sherlock exhibition at Portsmouth Museum where you can also discover more about all aspects of the city’s history.


Portsmouth is granted city status.

DO IT: Get an overview of the whole urban area and beyond – with views stretching up to 37km in every direction – from the 110m-high view deck of the Spinnaker Tower.



Boats disembark from Portsmouth and Southsea on 6 June – D-Day – bound for the beaches of Normandy.

DO IT: Explore the D-Day Museum, which brings to life perhaps the most pivotal event of World War Two. Don't miss the 83m-long Overlord Embroidery – inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry, it traces the progress of Operation Overlord (the invasion’s codename), from its origins in 1940 to victory in 1944.


For more information on planning your visit to Portsmouth, explore
 Virgin Holidays

Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas