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491BC to 1186 Video

Transcript Of Narration
This is intended to provide a round up of Portsmouth’s history. What better place to start than at the beginning.

Although the early history of Portchester is uncertain, the town was undoubtedly the Mother of Portsmouth. According to Higden, the Monk of Chester, Peres and his elder brother Ferrex, sons of an ancient British king fought for the crown and Ferrex was slain. Peres then built Caer-Peris, by which name Portchester became known to the Britons. This event is said to have happened about 491 B.C.

The first reference to Portsmouth as a naval station was made in 286 A.D., when a sea captain named Carausius, who had been sent by Rome to suppress piracy, became a master pirate himself. He assumed Imperial power and even had his own coinage minted. He was eventually killed by a rival, and then Rome sent a great force to crush the rebellion. This was accomplished, and then, realising the commanding position of Portchester, the Romans developed it as a naval station.

In 897 King Alfred the Great with a fleet in the waters off the Solent, gained a complete victory over the Danes and later in the year captured 20 of their ships in the Channel. From that far-off day, Portsmouth with Gosport has been the chief home of the Navy. Although no Charter has been found of earlier date than 1194, there is reason to believe that one was granted by King Henry the First in 1106 under the title of "Approved Men of Portsmouth", and that it was surrendered to King Richard the First in 1194 for a new Charter – at a price, for he was much in need of money at the time.

References to Portsmouth occur in the early 12th century but they almost certainly allude to the anchorage at the top of the harbour at the mouth of the estuary of the Wallington River. Portchester Castle and the village of Portchester stood nearby on the northern edge of this area.

Portsmouth was in fact founded by a wealthy Norman landowner and merchant, called Jean de Gisors, in approximately 1180, some fourteen years or so before the granting of the first royal charter.

The first references to Jean de Gisors occurs in a document drawn up between 1164 and 1177. It was during this period that he purchased the manor of Buckland from its previous owners, the de Port family. It was one of the Domesday manors on Portsea Island and it seems to have embraced the south-western part of the island, including the area we know today as Old Portsmouth, where he established his settlement.

The next reference to Jean de Gisors occurs in a gift made in approximately 1180 - 1186 when he gave Southwick Priory site for the erection of a chapel in honour of the martyr Thomas of Canterbury, formerly Archbishop.