Dominic Fontana's Staff Page at University of Portsmouth
Old Portsmouth and the Cowdray Engraving.
Dr Dominic Fontana
|The Cowdray Engraving and Portsmouth|
The Cowdray engraving is a picture describing the attempt by the forces of the French King, Francis 1st, to invade England on 19th July 1545. The image presents a birdseye view looking from north to south across the southern part of Portsea Island towards the Solent and to the Isle of Wight beyond. On the left-hand side of the image is the French invasion fleet represented as a mass of ships drawn up in St Helen’s Roads around the eastern end of the Isle of Wight. In the central upper right-hand area of the image are the ships of the English fleet, which are occupying the anchorage of Spithead to oppose the French invasion. The town of Portsmouth is shown in the lower right-hand side and Southsea castle is the large building in the centre of the image.
There is considerable topographic detail, particularly of Portsmouth town which is visible within the picture and can be identified. For example, Portsmouth Harbour's narrow entrance is accurately drawn and there are some English ships passing through the passage to join the rest of the English fleet at Spithead. The implied seabed configuration is exactly as it exists today some of the ships using the Swashway, a slightly deeper channel across Spitbank, as a route to Spithead.
Old Portsmouth as shown in the Cowdray engraving. The small harbour area on the right-hand side is the Camber.
The built environment of Old Portsmouth too depicts many identifiable features. On the Portsmouth side of the Harbour entrance is the Round Tower, a circular stone structure originating from the 1530s - 40s. On the Gosport shore opposite the Round Tower is Fort Blockhouse. Adjacent to the Round Tower is the capstan for raising a defensive boom chain across the Harbour entrance. This is also shown on a 1584 map of Portsmouth fortifications (British Library Cotton MS Augustus I II 117) and referred to in John Leland’s Itinerary (Written c. 1535-43). Williams (1979) suggests that the chain was not available for the 1545 battle which could explain why the capstan is shown but the chain itself is not evident. Also identifiable are the Square Tower, (c1495) rebuilt of stone during Henry VIII's reign and the structures of the southeast corner of Portsmouth including the Saluting Platform, Long Curtain and the Green Bulwarke or King's Bastion as it is know today. Further along the Southsea shoreline the smaller defences of Lumps Fort and Eastney Fort are also clearly shown. The half timbered building in the lower left-hand side of the picture is Eastney Farm which was the only substantial building in that part of Portsea Island at the time. Within the town walls there is also considerable detail shown which can be compared with the 1584 map of Portsmouth (British Library Cotton MS Augustus I II 117). The four Brewhouses: Dragon, Lion, White Hart and The Rose are clearly shown on the map as being located around a pond, probably a freshwater spring providing the water essential for brewing. The engraving shows them as timber framed buildings located above a pond.
The early brewhouses of Portsmouth.
The date when beer was first brewed in Portsmouth is not known however it was certainly being produced by 1492 (Eley 1988). The first large-scale brewing operation in the town was the Greyhound built by order of King Henry VII at a cost of £144, 15 shillings and two and halfpence. The population of Portsmouth at that time was quite small and alone would not justify the building of a large brewery however the Navy provided a strong demand for its product. Leyland observed that “The toun of Portesmouth is bare and litle occupied in time pece.”
In 1509 Henry VIII succeeded his father as King and by 1512 war with France commenced. This greatly increased demand for beer in order to supply both ships and army and consequently between April 1512 and April 1513 a sum of £2641 was spent on a new beerhouse and bakery at Portsmouth. Indeed, in 1515 a further £339 was paid to a equip the new beer houses (LP Vol 1, No. 2011) and It is probable that this was the Anker on the corner of St Thomas and St Mary's streets. It is quite possible that as it was a very large sum of money involved it would also have been to cover the establishment of the four beer houses on the eastern side of the town, the Rose, the Lion, the Dragon and the White Hart. These were located close to St Nicholas Street and are clearly shown on the 1584 map of Portsmouth and also illustrated in the Cowdray engraving. In 1513 the brewhouses were producing over 500 barrels a day (LP Vol 1, 1978). Leyland recorded that “King Henry the vij. at his firste warres into Fraunce erectid in the south part of the towne 3. great bruing houses with the implementes to serve his shippes at such tyme as they shaul go to the se in tyme of warre.” Brewing was clearly a major activity in Tudor Portsmouth especially during conflicts.
The four Tudor Brewhouses: Dragon, Lion, White Hart and The Rose are clearly shown on the map as being located around a pond, probably a freshwater spring providing the water essential for brewing. The engraving shows them as timber framed buildings located above a pond.
The four Tudor brewhouses as depicted in the 1584 map of Portsmouth. They are grouped around a pond and are named as the Dragon, the Lion, the White Hart, and the Rose.
Desmaretz map 1750 showing the Tudor Brewhouse location. Note the name "Four House Barracks" and that the area is labelled "Victualing Cooperidge".
Tudor brewhouse positions marked on the Desmaretz 1750 map
Domus Dei or God's House
The Domus Dei was originally founded in 1212 as a hospice for pilgrims. It was probably used as a store for arms during the reign of Edward V1 (1547 - 1553) (Wright, 1873, p. 19.) Around 1560 it was incorporated into the residence of the Governor of Portsmouth. The Church is now the Royal Garrison Church but is still known by its original name "Domus Dei". It was the church where King Charles II married Catherine of Braganza on 20th May 1662. The church lost its roof in a WWII air raid and has been left without its roof as a memorial to the horrors of war. Interestingly, it is clearly depicted in the Cowdray engraving and is shown as having a wall enclosing the site. This is also very clearly shown in the 1584 map of Portsmouth.
Domus Dei as depicted in the Cowdray engraving. Notice the large wall surrounding the site with the gateway through the wall to the right.
An illustration of the "Domus Dei in the time of Henry VIII" presented in Wright H. P. (1873) The story of the Domus Dei of Portsmouth, James Parker and Co., London, p2. The source data for this image is unknown but it is similar to that in the Cowdray although there are differences.
Domus Dei from the 1584 map. Notice that it is shown as having a large wall around the site, depicted as the double line and that it is named God's house.
The Domus Dei and Governor's Green viewed in an aerial photograph which has been processed to provide a high contrast negative image to reveal the remains of the gods house hospital as these can be clearly seen as parch marks in the centre of the image. These are the white areas showing up against the darker grass of Governor's Green.
detail of the parch marks
In this image the processed aerial photograph has been added to a geographic information system and the coordinated positions of the building lines has been calculated and drawn so that this data may be transferred across to other mapping such as the 1584 map of Portsmouth.
In this image the 1584 map of Portsmouth has been rotated by 130 degrees clockwise and geo-registered within thr GIS so that it may be incorporated into an image with modern map data including the digitised lines of the parch marks derived from the aerial photographs.
A diagram presented in Wright H. P. (1873) The story of the Domus Dei of Portsmouth, James Parker and Co., London, p17. This is clearly derived from the Cotton MS Augustus I II 117
H. P. Wright (1873, pp. 17 & 18) in his book “The story of the Domus Dei of Portsmouth” provides useful information about the buildings of the hospital and develops the diagram (above No. 2) of the site from repair estimates of 1581 and 1582. He has clearly based this upon the graphical representation of God’s house which appears in the 1584 map of Portsmouth (B L Cotton MS Augustus I II 117)
“In the Lansdowne MSS., Nos. 69 and 72, we are expressly told that the 'outlay set forth in the two estimates dated 1581, and July 24th, 1582 was " for converting God's House and other buildings into a residence for a Governor."
The estimate dated 1581 is of great interest, in-as-much as we are able by it and the plan of God's House in the Cottonian MS. to give the name and position of every building then existing. It is thus worded :—
“The gate hous with the lodginges withoute the north ile of the Church iii score and xv foote long; the rafter x foote and a halfe; the church xxv foot wide; the Armory aixe and fifty foot longe; the Smithe's forge xxxii foote longe; the Pay-Chamber at the end of the forge; the Chamber from the Pay-chamber to the Captayne's chamber sixe score foot long; the roofe over the Captayne's chamber and the Great Chamber fifty and sixe foot long; the roofe over the Dyning Chamber xxx fote longe; the Pigeon hous; the Hall roofe fifty foot longe; the Kechin and the Larderjj one hundred foote longe; the roofe over the Back gate xviii foot longe; Bakehous and the Stable iii score and eight foot longe; the roofe over the Nurcery sixe and fifty foot longe. Repairs estimated at £99.”
The accompanying plan (No. 2) shows each of the buildings above specified.”
Desmaretz map of 1750 with modern survey and parch marks gives a good indication of the relative positions of the buildings and the parch mark patterns.
Zoomed into the Desmaretz map of 1750 with modern survey and parch marks.
Lidar DTM Image of Governor's Green. This gives a height classified image of the ground surface. Within Governor's Green a shadow of the Governor's house may just be detected. Blue is low land, through yellow and orange to red for high area. Data courtesy Channel Coastal Observatory.
Old Portsmouth DTM 3D model viewed from the South looking North. Model made from Lidar Data courtesy Channel Coastal Observatory and processed with MapInfo and Vertical Mapper v3.1.
Governor's Green, Long Curtain and King's Bastion photographed in 1998
Royal Garrison Church about 1860-70
Old wall by Governor's Green. It was part of the Portsmouth defensive walls and marks the line of the wall heading north from the rear of the King's Bastion.
Ordnance Survey Map Hampshire LXXXIII 11 2500 Portsmouth Harbour Entrance 1881.
Please click on the map for a larger version
The Round Tower and Fort Blockhouse
The Round Tower as depicted in the Cowdray engraving. Notice the capstan in the lower right of the image this was probably used to control the boom chain which could close the Harbour entrance to attacking ships.
The Round Tower was one of Portsmouth's first permanent Harbour defences. The current stone built structure dates from Tudor times. It was most probably put up on the orders of Henry VIII. Certainly, it was constructed before 1545 as it appears quite prominently in the Cowdray engraving. Henry V ordered the construction of the first timber tower on the site after the French had invaded Portsmouth some six times during the Hundred Years War. There was a matching tower located on the Gosport side of the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour. Indeed, today, although hidden from view the remains of Fort Blockhouse are still extant on the Gosport side. Fort Blockhouse is also clearly detected in the Cowdray engraving on the opposite side of Portsmouth Harbour's entrance to the Round Tower.
Round Tower Air Photo 1998
The Square Tower
The Square Tower was built in 1494, at the order of King Henry VII, as a gun platform for iron guns covering the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour. The Square Tower was one of Portsmouth's first major defensive structures. In later years the square tower was used as the military governor's residence, it then became a powder magazine (for storing the town of Portsmouth's gunpowder supplies) and also a meat and water store.
Square Tower and Saluting Platform in 1998
St Thomas's Church located in the High Street Old Portsmouth as depicted in the Cowdray engraving.
St. Thomas 1998 Air Photo
St Thomas in 1867 1:500 scale OS map.
Click on the map for a larger version.
|Old Portsmouth and World War Two Bombing
Old Portsmouth was badly affected by the Luftwaffe bombing of Portsmouth during World War Two, especially in the Blitz of 1940 and early 1941. Many of the old buildings of the town were destroyed directly by the air raids and some of those that survived were cleared after the war and replaced with modern (1950s and 60s) housing.
British Library Cotton MS Augustus I II 117
Eley, Philip (1988) Portsmouth breweries 1492 -- 1847, The Portsmouth Papers, No.51, Portsmouth City Council, Portsmouth
Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII Volume 1, number 2011
Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII Volume 1, number 1978
Williams, G. H. (1979), The western defences of Portsmouth Harbour 1400-1800. The Portsmouth Papers; no.30, Portsmouth City Council, Portsmouth
Wright H. P. (1873) The story of the Domus Dei of Portsmouth, James Parker and Co., London, pp17 and 18. Full Text