Today started with a plan, and I must say things worked out a little bit better. Except for some bad weather this morning I got to everything I planned to today. But of course, bad weather is something to be expected around these parts I am finding. So let’s take a look at Southsea Castle, D-Day Museum, Portchester Castle and Box Grove Priory.
Since I stayed in Portsmouth last night, I decided to make a quick stop at Southsea Castle this morning. Being the winter season, there are many English Heritage sites that are closed currently. Southsea Castle is one of them, but I thought I could still take a little look from the outside.
Southsea Castle is quite a small castle and appears to be more a coastal defence or lookout. There are quite a number of cannons around the top of the walls on display. There is also another museum close by, the D-Day Museum, which I was too early to visit today. However, they have some old tanks on display out the front.
The next stop for the morning was a visit to Portchester Castle. On the way, I spotted a sign for some nearby church ruins. The ruins were of the Royal Garrison Church in Portsmouth. The ruins are much more complete than I was expecting. They almost look like you could put a roof on and windows and have a complete church.
On the way from the church ruins to Portchester Castle, the weather decided to turn for the worst. It started to rain, and I got a little wet getting into Portchester Castle. The bad weather also meant that some of the castle was closed for safety.
Even with the bad weather I still made the most of my visit. There are sections of Portchester Castle that date back as early as the 3rd century. One of the most impressive parts is the almost entirely intact original outer wall.
There is also quite a lovely church on the site of Portchester Castle. It still appears to be used today and is kind of interesting in itself.
After leaving Porchester Castle, the weather improved slightly, but it was still raining. So I was glad that my next stop was indoors. I headed to what used to be a relatively large and grand Roman Palace.
The palace, for the most part, is gone. However, on this site, they have found many artefacts and detailed mosaics. Some of the mosaics are quite complicated and they are made from very small tiles of maybe 1cm x 1cm. But they cover the entire area of what would have been the floors that are maybe 2 x 3m. So you can imagine the time that must have gone into making them.
Box Grove Priory
The next destination for the day was Box Grove Priory. There are two buildings on the site. The first I visited is a ruin and once was the guest range of the priory. Being a ruin there is not a whole lot to detail about the building. However, it is possible to walk through the outer walls.
The second building is a church. Found in 1105 as a monastic church and still, operates today as the parish church. The church does interest me more, the exterior is a beautiful old building. But the interior, in my opinion, is even more beautiful. There is extensive stained glass windows and stonework gives a great atmosphere.
My last stop of the day was in the town of Battle. There are two pieces of history that I am visiting here, which are both in the one places. The first is the Battlefield wherein 1066 the Battle of Hastings took place. A very important date and location in English history where the Normans defeated the English in just one day.
The second piece of history is Battle Abbey, which was built as penance for the bloodshed of this day. The building itself is quite large and sits an imposing site on top of the hill.
An audio tour takes you through what happened in the battle and the magnitude of the win for the Normans. They effectively had the lower ground the whole way through the fight and yet still came out on top.
The site did initially also include quite a large cathedral. However, this was unfortunately destroyed at some point in the past. The Gatehouse to Battle Abbey though still stands and is quite an impressive sight when you are approaching.
On To Dover
Today turned out to be a full day, getting to four different heritage sites. With the bad weather this morning the traffic was not great, but I still am happy with the results today. England has to be one of the best countries for seeing historical places that I have visited. Although there is not a lot of comparison for me to date.
Tomorrow will be my last day in the countryside as I make my way back to London. I can already tell that I will want to return to England, as there is so much more to explore.