Porter's Garden, The

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HCC Site ID: 1973 Parish: Portsea
Designations: Lodge II*, Wall II*, CA 22 Area: 0.45 ha
Access: Public Access. See opening times Ownership: Portsmouth Historic Dockyard Ltd (PHDL) a registered charity

Location and site

The Porter’s Garden is located in Portsmouth Naval Base, PO1 3LJ, just inside Victory Gate at the corner of Queen’s Street and The Hard. College Road runs through it. It is about 2km from Portsmouth City Centre.

Historical Development

The garden is outlined by the dockyard wall which was built in 1711 and which together with Victory Gate are the first brick structures to be built. Porter’s Lodge was built in 1708 just inside the gate on a long triangle of land which became the garden. An earlier Porter’s watch house had stood at the gate in 1698. By 1723 stables had been built in the garden and a map of 1754 shows The Porter’s Lodge, stables and two small trees in his garden. Changes to the design took place in 1815 and in 1867 stables and a coach house were included, to be replaced in 1874 by police cells. In 1907 a police superintendent’s house was build on part of the original garden. By 1939 the garden had disappeared under an air-raid shelter and car park. A new garden was created on the site in 1998, designed by landscape architects Camlin Lonsdale and a Friends Committee set up in the Spring of 2000 to do the development with advice from HGT, Portsmouth’s Head Gardener Brian Kidd, Staunton Country Park and Petersfield Physic Garden.

Current Description

Judas tree, Cercis siliquastrum, May 2021

The Friends of the Porter’s Garden have been maintaining and developing the garden since 2000 and it continues to flourish. Access is free and the garden is open every day except Christmas Day in normal circumstances. The main features of the original 2000 garden are four Black Walnut trees (Juglans nigra), evergreen hedges and two statues donated by the Royal Navy. Captain Robert Falcon Scott sculptured by Kathleen Lady Scott in 1915 stands near the entrance. It commemorated his heroic attempt to reach the South Pole and death in 1912. The second is of William III an enthusiastic gardener and “finished in the manner of the Caesars” sculptured by Van Ost and presented by Richard Norton in 1718. It stands in a flower bed which was completely redesigned in 2018/19: it now features three wrought iron Repton style flower baskets surrounded by golden gravel. They were intended to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Humphry Repton’s death. They were manufactured by local designer- blacksmith Peter Clutterbuck who was also commissioned in 2002-3 to make two wrought iron gates. In 2005, three granite seats were installed by sculptor-mason Roger Stephens, depicting the hulls of Mary Rose, Warrior and Victory. On 21 March 2009 a raised extension to the garden in front of Boat House 6 was formally opened by Mike Hall, at the time Chairman of Hampshire Gardens Trust. The garden was designed by Professor Sir Colin Stansfield–Smith and features Breedon gravel to match the rest of the hard landscaping in the garden, a flight of steps, a double walled border and five Juglans nigra. Opposite is the stone found lodged in the hull of HMS Pique in 1835, after she ran aground in Labrador. After refloating herself, she sailed across the Atlantic, without a rudder & with pumps continuously manned to control her leaks. In 2010 the dockyard wall was decorated by oval plaques depicting Queen Mary II, King Charles II and Queen Anne, all of whom had an interest in gardening and in 2012 a statue of St Fiacre, the patron saint of gardeners was added to the wall. The plaques and statue were all made and fixed by John Phillipson.
In spring there are drifts of snowdrops and species crocus, sweetly scented narcissi including ‘Grande Soleil D’or’ of the tazetta group, the Tenby daffodil, Narcissus obvallaris and then Fritillaria meleagris. In summer the air is filled with the fragrance of roses, including Rosa moschata, R. “Old Blush” and R. gallica ‘Officinali’ followed later by colourful herbaceous specimens, such as Phlox paniculata, Echinacea purpurea and Chelone obliqua.

Summary and Significance

The Porter’s Garden was created for the new millennium on the site of the 1754 garden in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. Recalling traditions of other dockyard gardens it brings tranquility, beauty and the domestic scale to a continuing industrial site. Eighteenth century planting evokes a sense of place and humanity through richness of colour, scent and association. The historical, educational and recreational aspects of the garden provide relaxation for dockyard personnel and visitors with its intimate atmosphere. It is easily accessible to members of the public and links Portsmouth Historic Dockyard to the local communities.
HGT research 1997; update March 2018, update Urban Parks Survey, June 2021


Hampshire Gardens Trust Journal No. 17, pp18-20, Autumn 1998
The Porter’s Garden leaflet 7 July 2016
HM Frigate Pique and the Pique Stone leaflet 2009
Grid Reference finder – http://gridreferencefinder.com [accessed May 2021]
The Porter’s Lodge website – www.portersgarden.org.uk [accessed May 2021]

Our address

Portsmouth Public Access. See opening times Click for Disclaimer & copyright
50.79923643383178, -1.107928275996528

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