"GOSPORT, a parish chapelry, seaport, market, and post town, in the parish and liberty of Alverstoke, county Hants, 23 miles S.E. of Winchester, and 77 from London by the turnpike road, or 96 by the South-Western railway, which has a branch line to this place. It is situated on the western side of the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour, on a point of land facing the town of Portsmouth, from which it is distant, at one part, only half a mile, and with which there is constant intercourse by means of a steam ferry, and a floating bridge conveying passengers, carriages, horses, and all kinds of merchandise. Gosport is, comparatively, a modern town, deriving its importance, chiefly, from its proximity to Portsmouth.
It appears that King Stephen succeeded in landing here, after being driven about in a storm, and called it God's Port. He afterwards bestowed it upon his brother, the Bishop of Blois, who granted it a charter. The town is well built, and, especially from the water, has a handsome appearance. It is governed in matters relating to its sanitary and social condition by a body of trustees appointed under a local Act of Parliament, who make and levy all rates for paving, lighting, &c. There are also two officers, called constables, chosen under the ancient charter.
The town contains a market-house, theatre, commercial and savings banks, house of correction, foundries, breweries, and extensive works connected with the government establishments, affording employment to a large number of people. Here are situated the Royal Clarence victualling-yard for supplying her Majesty's navy, extensive powder magazines, the Forton marine barracks, and the Haslar hospital, capable of accommodating 2,000 inmates. Within a short distance of the above hospital are the two powerful batteries known as the Block House and Monckton forts; other defences are in process of construction. The coastguard and police services have stations here. It is a polling-place for the county, and petty sessions are held fortnightly.
The living is a perpetual curacy* in the diocese of Winchester, value £220, with good parsonage house, in the patronage of the Rector of Alverstoke. The church, dedicated to the Holy Trinity, was originally erected in 1696, and has been subsequently much enlarged. It was entirely repaired in 1830 at the cost of £4,000. Its internal appearance is very handsome. There is also the district church of St. Matthew, the living of which is a perpetual curacy, value £200, in the gift of the bishop and rector alternately. The Independents have two chapels, and the Wesleyans and Roman Catholics one each. There are five National schools, and two free schools, one in connection with Trinity church, and one a Roman Catholic school. The Bishop of Winchester is lord of the manor. Tuesdays and Saturdays are the market days. "
[From The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868) - transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]