PORTSMOUTH-VIEW FROM THE SALUTING PLATFORM.

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VIEW FROM THE SALUTING PLATFORM

THE correctness of this view will be immediately recognized by every person in
the least acquainted with Portsmouth. The platform, from which it is taken, forms the
grand promenade of the inhabitants, and is usually the first place visited by strangers,
on account of the prospect which is thence obtained. Immediately in front of the
engraving is seen the northern extremity of the platform, on which are two soldiers,
who seem indulging themselves with a leisurely inhalation of the fresh breeze from the
water, after having liberally expended a portion of their own breath in sounding their
bugles at parade. Beyond the platform, the most conspicuous object is the Government
Semaphore, with three flags displayed as a signal; and to the left, the landing-place
called the King’s Stairs. Beyond the old round tower is seen the flag-ship of the Port
Admiral ; and, between her and the gun-brig which is running in, a distant view is
obtained of the Town Hall of Gosport.

Portsmouth, one of our greatest naval depots, is situated near the south western
extremity of the island of Portsea, in the county of Hampshire, and is about seventy
miles S.S.W. of London. Adjoining to it, on the northward, is the town of Portsea; and to
the south-east, without the walls, lays the suburb of South Sea. The three places may
be considered as forming one large town, under the general name of Portsmouth, the
aggregate population of which is about 50,000. The population of Gosport, which lies
to the westward of Portsmouth, on the opposite side of the harbour, is, with that of the
adjacent hamlet of Stoke, about 12,000. The docks and naval storehouses are within
the precinct of Portsea; the hospital and the victualling establishment are at Gosport;
and the offices of the Port Admiral and the residence of the Lieutenant-Governor are
at Portsmouth, within the lines of which are also the barracks for the accommodation
of the garrison. Portsmouth is strongly fortified by a circuit of bastions and a moat,
which enclose the town on the landslide, and which are connected with a similar line,
extending in a semi-circular form round the landslide of Portsea. In the event of a siege,
it would require 14,000 men to form an efficient garrison for the united towns. The
situation of Portsmouth is low and marshy ; and the peculiar smell which arises from
the mud at low water, and from the moat, may be perceived at the distance of two or
three miles, in approaching the town from the northward.

The principal church at Portsmouth stands in St. Thomas’-street, and nearly in

the centre of the town. It is dedicated to St. Thomas h Becket, and was erected between
1210 and 1220, by Peter de Rupibus, Bishop of Winchester. The transept and the
chancel are the only parts which remain of the original structure, the nave and side-
aisles having been rebuilt in 1692. At the same time the old tower, which formerly stood
above the intersection of the transepts and the nave, was taken down, and the present
one erected at the western entrance. It is surmounted with a cupola, and its height is
about 120 feet.

With the exception of the older parts of St. Thomas’ Church, which afford one or
two good specimens of the Gothic style, Portsmouth contains but little in the shape of
architectural antiquities that is likely to attract the notice of the stranger. The building,
above which the Semaphore is erected, near the northern extremity of the saluting
platform, was, in former times, the residence of the governor of the town. Previous
to the suppression of the monasteries and religious houses, it belonged to a Domus
Dei, or hospital, which was founded in 1238. A part of the church of this hospital is
yet standing at a short distance to the south-east of the Semaphore, and near to the
grand parade. It is now the garrison chapel; and against its walls are placed numerous
monuments erected to the memory of officers, both naval and military, who have died in
the service of their country.

“A tomb is theirs on every page,
An epitaph on every tongue;
The present hour, the future age,
For them bewail, to them belong.

For them the voice of festal mirth
Grows hushed, — their name the only sound;
While deep remembrance pours to worth
The goblet’s tributary round.

A theme to crowds, who knew them not,
Lamented by admiring foes,
Who would not share their glorious lot!
Who would not die the death they chose!”

• Line by Lord Byron “On the Death of Sir Peter Parker”

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