I recently stumbled across this old map, if that is the word, of Portsea Island some three centuries ago.
As you can see, there does not seem to be a way off the island at that time.
No doubt there was of course, but taking a closer look, there is nothing illustrated.
The words ‘Portsea Bridge’ are written where the Hilsea roundabout is now, but the strange thing is, no roads seem to connect to it.
You will also notice that most of the island is a bog.
Hilsea, Anchorage Park and what we now know as Southsea Common are all marshy ground.
As you can see, the common in those far off days was where the naval base and Portsea stand today.
The actual town of Portsmouth is the little fortified area to the bottom left.
And at what we would today call Mile End or Rudmore, or even the ferry port, there’s the delightfully-named Pest House.
This was an isolation hospital, well away from the town walls, for those with the plague.
I always find it odd when doing my research that one person states one thing as fact while another says something completely different.
In St Andrew’s Church graveyard, Farlington, there is a grave of a Luke Kent who was supposed to have been the first mail coach guard. He died in 1803.
In Arthur Mee’s The King’s England of 1939, Mee states that Kent left a small legacy to his successors on the Portsmouth to Chichester coach so that when they passed his grave the coachman should sound his horn. But in The Portsmouth That Has Passed, William Gates gives a different story.
At least 20 coaches each day entered or left the town, including the Royal Mail coach. With much blowing of horns it must have been noisy.
Apparently an actor at a Portsmouth theatre left money to be paid to the guard of the mail coach if he blew his horn when passing Farlington churchyard where the actor’s remains were to be buried.
Not quite the same but who do you believe? I searched for more than an hour for the grave, but to no avail.