A museum in Fareham and a stroll around Gosport

Saturday, March 3rd 2012

In my last post, I mentioned that we went to Liverpool Street station to buy train tickets. These were for our trip to Hampshire today and we bought them the day before so as to be able to get an early start this morning.

Waterloo
Waterloo
Very quiet for a Saturday

We reached Waterloo station just after 8 am and found it very quiet for a Saturday. Perhaps the cold and the early hour had something to do with it. We just had time to buy baguettes and coffee and get aboard our Southwest train. The weather was dull and, to make matters worse, we heard that it was raining in Fareham.

Fareham Station
Fareham Station
No rain after all

It wasn’t raining at Fareham, after all. It was cold but bright and clear. We had come to meet a friend, who was waiting for us when we arrived. From the station we walked into town, our intention being to visit the Westbury Manor Museum.

Foresters' Hall
Foresters’ Hall
No longer used by the Foresters

Fareham is small with the feel of a country market town and in fact still has markets on Mondays and Wednesdays. We walked along West Street, whose small shops contribute to the “country” impression and found Foresters’ Hall. Foresters, as you may know, is a insurance and investment company that enrolls customers as “members” and engages them in social activities and charity fund-raising. Foresters’ Halls, once centres of such activities, turn up all over the place but many, like this one, no longer serve their original purpose.

Holy Trinity
Holy Trinity
Fareham’s parish church

West Street is also where you find Holy Trinity, Fareham’s parish church, with the war memorial in its embrace.

The Lord Arthur Lee
The Lord Arthur Lee
Soldier, politician and patron of the arts

The pub commemorates Arthur Hamilton Lee, 1st Viscount Lee of Fareham (though he was born in Bridport, Dorset), soldier, politician and patron of the arts, who is remembered for, among other things, donating Chequers to the nation as a country retreat for the Prime Minister.

Westbury Manor Museum
Westbury Manor Museum
Fareham’s history is studied and explained here

As museums go, Westbury Manor Museum is fairly small but it is filled with very striking displays. Glass cases quite properly have their place but are supplemented with tableaux and models. There is also a small cafe where you can drink tea, eat cake and admire the 18th century fireplace.

Art works
Art works
Produced by local artists

We asked whether photography was allowed in the museum. They seemed uncertain but thought it was probably all right.

On the ground floor is a room for the display of art works, furniture, crockery, jewellery, etc. by local artists. It’s good to see art being used to produce articles that are both practical and beautiful to look at.

The lift The notice
Take the lift?
Er… better not!

I thought about taking the lift to the upper floor but… after reading the notice, I decided against it! There were three of us and two of us are not light…

Museum staircase
Museum staircase
Curvaceously impressive

In any case, the staircase is a handsome piece of work and attracts the eye as well as the feet.

Fareham Port c 1910
Fareham Port c 1910
A remarkably detailed model

This scale model, showing Fareham Port as it would have appeared around 1910, is a beautiful piece of work with marvellous detail. The tiny tram has passengers on the upper deck, one reading a newspaper, and there is a tiny drinking fountain complete but miniature.

Strawberry growers
Strawberry growers
Flourished in the early part of the 20th century

The human tableaux are very striking. The one above represents the strawberry growing industry that flourished during the first half of the 20th century and perhaps before, but gradually declined in later times because of various factors, including the sale of cultivable land to builders for a quick profit.

Unjustly punished
Unjustly punished
Victims of the workhouse regime

Also told is the dreadful story of two young boys, aged 4 and 5, who were sent to Fareham workhouse in the 1830s and, through anxiety or other emotional problems, regularly wet their beds. Instead of sympathy they received harsh treatment and were locked in a cold shed and left to dry out.

Price's School
Price’s School
Set up for poor children by William Price

At the opposite end of the scale we have philanthropy, in this instance taking the form of a school set up in 1725 for 30 poor boys and girls under the terms of the will of local timber merchant William Price.

There were very many items of interest in this museum but I will show you just a couple more. My fascination with clocks drew my eye to this article on a wall.

Wall clock
Wall clock
Sold by a local firm called Vimpany

It’s always interesting to find a clock made by a local maker, as this appears to be, though whether Vimpany actually built the clock or bought it in and put their name on it, I do not know. The Vimpany name still seems prominent in Fareham (and in Cornwall) and there are references online to a jeweller’s shop of that name once existing in West Street. Also , there is a record of the death in 1917 of a William Vimpany of Fareham, described as a watchmaker. More than that I do not know but I suspect the family still lives in or near Fareham, though the jeweller’s and watchmaker’s business no longer exists (or does it?).

Fireplace panel
Fireplace panel
From an 18th century Adams fireplace

The museum’s small cafe also contains some items of interest, though not all have identifying information attached to them, unfortunately. There is a rather splendid 18th century Adams-style fireplace, too obstructed by other objects to get a clear photo of it, but I have pictured the decorative panel belonging to it that is interesting in its own right and for the disarming text of the description which reads “The carvings at the sides show the four seasons, but [we] do not know the stories shown in the section above the mantelpiece.”

Cannon gun
Cannon gun
Provenance unknown

After the museum visit, we continued walking along West Street, part of which is designated a Pedestrian Zone, something I heartily approve of. Topmost in our minds by this time was… lunch! Along the way, we saw a few items of interest, such as this cannon gun (provenance not indicated, sad to say) and this pub:

The Crown
The Crown
Once a 19th century brewery

which was once the Crown Brewery, thought to have been opened in 1841 and converted into a pub in 1905. Wetherspoons have refurbished it and I hope they have kept the period flavour as they usually manage to do.

Cafe Tusk
Cafe Tusk
Hurrah, lunch!

Lunch finally appeared in the form of Cafe Tusk, which is an Indian restaurant offering a set-price eat-as-much-as-you-like buffet. The food was delicious, we had several helpings, and we ate too much. But that’s what buffets are for, isn’t it?🙂

The Old Stables
The Old Stables
Now an Italian restaurant

After lunch, we continued our stroll and had a look at the High Street which, unlike its namesake in other towns, is residential, rather than a shopping street. We noted a number of fine old buildings including this one. It is currently occupied by an Italian restaurant called “Villa Romana”. The building, of course, looks nothing like a Roman villa, nor is it such.  It is in fact an 18th century stables, previously belonging to Kintyre House which is adjacent. English Heritage have given it a Grade II listing.

Graveyard
Graveyard
Parish church of St Peter and St Paul

This picturesque graveyard belongs to the parish church of St Peter and St Paul. The church is also a Grade II listed building which was a surprise to me as at first sight it doesn’t seem to be anything special.

stpeterandstpaul
St Peter and St Paul
Listed because it contains some ancient bits

Despite the chirpy little clock tower, the building doesn’t particularly appeal to me. In fact, I think it’s a pretty pedestrian piece of work. The reason for the listing seems to be that, like many churches, this one was built, rebuilt, altered and added to in a number of phases and so contains some ancient bits going back to Anglo-Saxon times.

Portsmouth Harbour
Portsmouth Harbour
Looking across from Gosport

You may recall me saying that Tigger hails from Gosport and it therefore seemed only natural that we should catch a bus and go there, seeing as we were so close. In the photo above, we are in Gosport and looking across Portsmouth Harbour, one of the busiest harbours in the country. Nowadays, the eye is immediately caught by the Spinnaker Tower but there are other interesting things to see as well.

Gosport Ferry
Gosport Ferry
Turning to dock on this side

In the busy picture above, one of the Gosport ferries is turning to come alongside the landing stage, bringing passengers from the Portsmouth side. Behind it to the right, painted white, blue and red, is one of the Isle of Wight ferries setting out. To its left, in the distance, one of its companions in green and white livery, is about to dock at Portsmouth. Just a little to the left of that ferry, we see the three masts of HMS Warrior, Britain’s first iron-clad warship, permanently moored in Portsmouth Harbour as a maritime museum. (For Warrior’s history see here.)

A forest of masts
A forest of masts
Gosport Marina Berths

Like any town, Gosport has streets, houses, shops, pubs, etc. but the presence of the sea and the ships that sail on it is everywhere obvious. Here are yacht clubs and marinas, berths and boatyards, and the sounds and smells of the sea and the boats.

On a hill...
On a hill…
…stands Holy Trinity

The Victorian red-brick exterior of Holy Trinity, with its unusually tall tower, is seen standing upon a hill, with the contrasting form and colour of a modern apartment block behind it. (Update 17/10/16: Holy Trinity doesn’t actually stand on a hill. See Dave Rowland’s comment below.

Bastion No 1
Bastion No 1
Gosport’s defences and an ancient monument

In 1665, Charles II ordered defences to be built around Gosport and Portsmouth. Work on what came to be known as the “Gosport Lines” continued until the early 18th century, though later additions and modifications were made. This section is known as “Bastion No 1” and was constructed in 1802-3, using convict labour. By 1850, the “Lines” had been superseded by more modern defences and were neglected, some parts being levelled. Bastion No 1 remains as an historic reminder and is a scheduled ancient monument. Locals seem to regard it as a good place to walk their dogs.

Nelson's Bar
Nelson’s Bar
A haunt of press gangs and smugglers

When Portsmouth and Gosport were navy towns it used to be said that the better paid officers lived in Portsmouth and other ranks in Gosport. Be that as it may, both towns were well supplied with pubs, often side by side along the waterfront. Going to the pub for a quiet – or not so quiet – drink could, however, be a risky manoeuvre, as the press gangs would seek out drunken sailors as easy prey and more than one pub landlord would have taken bribes to betray his customers. Nelson’s Bar was previously known as The Star and was originally a 19th century coaching inn, reputed to be a haunt of press gangs and smugglers.

Gosport Museum
Gosport Museum
Originally a grammar school and library, now a museum

This unusual but handsome building was opened in 1901 as a grammar school and free library. In 1958, the school moved out, followed by the library in 1973. The building reopened as Gosport Museum in 1975.

Victorian drinking fountain
Victorian drinking fountain
Erected by Rear Admiral Gambier, 1870

Time was getting on and the light was beginning to fade, so we had to think about retracing our somewhat complicated route home. About my last photo was of a drinking fountain with a tall lamp upon it. The inscription reveals that it was erected by Rear Admiral R. F. Gambier and “E.M.S.” in September 1870. I assume that “erected” means the the two named people provided the funds for the fountain. The name Gambier is famous, but the better known holder of that name was James Gambier, father of Robert Fitzgerald, donor of the fountain. Both reached high rank in the Royal Navy and James was also active in diplomacy, although his tactics in the Battle of the Basque Roads caused controversy (see here and here). I have no idea who “E.M.S.” is. (Update 18/10/16: See Dave Rowland’s comment below.)

Bas relief on the façade of Gosport Museum
Bas relief on the façade of Gosport Museum

Copyright © 2012 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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6 Responses to A museum in Fareham and a stroll around Gosport

  1. WOL says:

    Judging by the staircase, the museum had a third story that was not visible in your photo of the façade. Looks like the tips of the dormers are visible just above the roofline. It is a lovely staircase, though. It looks to be a very interesting museum, with very detailed displays. In the picture of Holy Trinity (On a hill. . . ) what are those two large green things? You can see how the “old stable” was modified, windows filled in, etc. Looks like you had a very nice outing.

    • SilverTiger says:

      I believe the upper floor of the museum is reserved as offices for museum staff and perhaps also for the staff of the tourist information office on the ground floor.

      The “green things”, which I included because they give a nice balance to the picture, are marker buoys. I am guessing that these are the ones used to mark the navigable channel for bigger ships and being green, they would have been on the starboard side of the channel.

      What I didn’t mention in my post was that the restaurant gives its address as “Old Coach House”, presumably because they think that sounds posher. English Heritage makes no bones about it and says its a stables.

  2. Dave Rowland says:

    With reference to Holy Trinity church, it’s not built on a hill – it just looks that way from the south; the old ramparts which you described get in the way! This remaining section of fortification has been known locally for many many years as Vicars Bank, no doubt because of the former vicarage which still stands just to the north of the ramparts, in fact, the vicarage grounds extend as far is to actually include the ramparts, upon which the old gun positions are still in place, although no guns have been there for well over 100 years. Holy Trinity itself was built in 1696, but the outside was re-fashioned in brick in 1887, with the west end being rebuilt, and the tower was built in 1889.
    The Star Hotel was a coaching inn, and itself was built on the site of a single-storey inn called The Royal Hospital in the early 1800s. There was another coaching inn in Gosport High Street – The India Arms Hotel (formerly The East India Arms); although the hotel closed in the early 1960s, the coach entrance remains, and this is of interest because in 1882, the stables previously used for accommodating horses for the coach services were put into further use for stabling the horses & trams, wich began in 1882. The tram lines veered off from the High Street in both directions and ran through the archway, where the trams & horses would be kept overnight. The arrangement ended when the horse-drawn tramway was replaced by the electric tramway, on a wider-gauge track, on 24th January 1906, although the first trial run of an electric tram took place on 20th December 1905, so the old tramway must have been replaced before that date.
    I hope I haven’t bored you too much! 🙂

    • SilverTiger says:

      You haven’t bored me at all. It’s always a pleasure to receive corrections or further information from people will local knowledge.

      Regarding the ‘hill’, I have added an update to the text pointing to your comment.

      • Dave Rowland says:

        Thank you. If you don’t mind, I’d like to mention a few other points which you’ve mentioned: with regard to the Admiral Gambier fountain, it was donated by the admiral & EMS in order to provide free water to anyone, particularly the ferrymen and others who spent much of their time waiting for trade around Gosport Hard, so as to prevent valuable pennies being spent in one of the many pubs within a stone’s throw from the fountain. ‘EMS’ was a close (but anonymous) lady friend of the admiral’s. Sometime around 1925, when the Ferry Gardens (later Esplanade Gardens/Royan Gardens, and now Falkland Gardens) were constructed, the fountain was moved into the gardens, but was returned close to its original after the High Street was pedestrianised during the 1990s. Gambier resided in The Crescent, in Angleseyville (Alverstoke), and died at home on 17th October 1887, being totally blind for the last 20 years of his life; he’s buried in St Mark’s churchyard, just around the corner. Although the churchyard remains, the church itself was demolished in 1911. The block of houses & shops on the south side of Stoke Road immediately east of The White Hart pub was named Gambier Place in his honour, probably before his death.
        The Grammar School/library: although Gosport Grammar School moved to Bay House, the building continued to be used as a school until the 1970s; I was at Brune Park County High School (formerly The Central School) at Gordon Road/Daisy Lane; the new school was being built at Brockhurst to accomodate several old schools, and whilst it was being completed, we were based at Walpole Road from September 1964 until the following July, moving to the new school in September 1965. Even after that, it was used as a secretarial training school or smething similar for several years. 🙂

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