National Gazetteer (1868) - Portchester
"PORCHESTER, (or Portchester), a parish in the hundred of Portsdown, county Hants, 2 miles S.E. of Fareham, its post town, and 7,-, from Portsmouth. It is a station on the London and South-Western railway. It is situated at the top of Portsmouth harbour under Portsdown Hill, and was the Roman Portus Magnus or Caer Peris of the Britons. A castle of great strength was erected on the old Roman works by the Saxons, who named it Portceastre, and which was rebuilt soon after the Norman conquest, and was held by Queen Margaret in the reign of Edward I. It subsequently came through the Nortons to Thistlethwayte of Southwick, and gives title of baron to the Earl of Carnarvon.
The walls of the castle, which stands on a neck of land projecting a considerable way into Portsmouth harbour, are from 8 to 12 feet in thickness and 18 feet high, enclosing a quadrangular area of nearly 5 acres, and are defended by numerous towers, and surrounded by a broad and deep moat. The entrance to the outer area, now laid out as public gardens, is through massive Norman towers on the E. and W. sides, and in front is the keep, a strong square structure with four towers, the largest being at the north-western angle. Many of the rooms, which are very spacious, are vaulted with stone. Previously to the destruction of the harbour, through the retiring of the sea, this place was the principal station of the British navy, now removed to Portsmouth.
The village, called by way of distinction Porchester Street, extends for about a mile on the road to Fareham. The inhabitants are chiefly engaged in agriculture. The land, which was once forest, is now chiefly arable, except about 200 acres of downs. A Nelson column stands on a hill. The impropriate tithes have been commuted for a rent-charge of £320, and the vicarial for one of £180, besides 11 acres of glebe. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Winchester, value £223. The church, dedicated to St. Mary, is an ancient and cruciform structure, with a low central tower containing three bells. The interior of the church contains numerous monuments, among which is one to Sir Thomas Cornwallis, groom-porter to Queen Elizabeth and James I. The chancel, which is small, has an E. window of three lights. The building was originally situated within the castle walls, and has been partially destroyed, but the W. front is still in good preservation. The parochial charities produce about £12 per annum. There is a National school for both sexes, entirely supported by Thomas Thistlethwayte, Esq., who is lord of the manor. The Wesleyans and Primitive Methodists have each a place of worship."
[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868) - Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]