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Transcript Of Narration
Although Portsmouth’s chief claim to fame is as the home of the Navy, it has also for several hundred years served as a great military rendezvous. In 1221 Henry III assembled in Portsmouth one of the finest armies ever raised in England.
In 1417 two round towers were built to render Portsmouth a securer haven, the round tower was started that year but it was a long time before it was completed. The Round Tower was originally built in wood, with a sister tower on the Gosport shore. It was rebuilt in stone about 60 years later and remained a key part of the city’s defences for centuries and was bought by the City Council in 1958.
On 9th January 1449 the Bishop of Chichester was murdered near the Domus Dei, by seamen, for failing to pay the wages due to them. For this crime, the town was placed under the Greater Excommunication, and as matters went badly with the inhabitants in the years that followed they attributed their misfortunes to this cause. The ex communication was lifted in 1508.
In 1494, by order from King Henry VII, the Square Tower at the end of the High Street was built and so to was the adjacent Platform. After 1540 it was used as a magazine, and it was due to Colonel Goring`s threat to fire the powder inside that he obtained terms of surrender for himself and his followers when the Parliamentary forces besieged the town in 1642.
In June 1495, the King gave orders for the construction of a dry dock at Portsmouth, the first known to have been built in the country. The Sovereign was the first ship to enter the dock on 25th May 1496. The docking process took 140 men in addition to the Mariners.
In 1522 a great chain was erected to keep enemy ships from entering the harbour. It was stretched from Point to Blockhouse at Gosport. The Castle by the South Sea`s buildings were commenced in 1538. It was the building of the Castle that gave birth to a new word "Southsea". The building of the Castle was followed by the erection of two small circular forts on the shore, one on the site of Lumps Fort and the other at Eastney.
In 1545 the English Fleet was lying at anchor at Spithead when on 18th July news was received that a French fleet, numbering 200 vessels was off of the Isle of Wight and advancing. The Mary Rose had her ports open ready for action, the guns were run out, and in consequence of the calm, had not been secured properly. The breeze rose suddenly, and the vessel heeled slightly, as a result the windward tier of guns slipped across the deck and as the vessel tipped further the ports were depressed below the water line.
The ship instantly filled and carried down with her almost all on board. The meeting of the fleets gave us the National Anthem, for the British watchword was "God Save King Henry" and the ringing answer came: "Long to reign over us".
The Charter of 1106 was stolen along with the records of the Customs and Usages of the town in the 13th Century, while the Charter of 1313 was not only stolen but actually offered for sale in the streets of Portsmouth in 1546, it was recovered but the Corporation had to pay £47 for it, as the last holder had purchased it at an auction sale.
In 1561 Queen Elizabeth made her first visit to Portsmouth and happily resolved to use her power to help its development. The queen ordered fortifications for the city and the expense of erecting these fortifications and others by Queen Elizabeth were paid for from the profits of the first State Lottery.
The scheme consisted of 400,000 tickets at a cost of ten shillings each, the first prize was £5,000 made up of £3,000 in cash with £700 worth of plate and the rest in tapestries and linens. Twenty five prizes were of £100 or more.
The former residential portion of the Domus Dei which had been used as an armoury since the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1540, was in 1658 converted into a residence for the Governor, and it continued as this for 300 years. Many famous people were entertained there, and it was in the great hall of the building that the wedding of Catherine of Braganza and King Charles II was celebrated. Its last official use was when the Allied Sovereigns were entertained there in 1814.