Portchester: Portchester Castle & St Mary’s Church & Churchyard

The wall of the old Roman fort that surrounds both Portchester Castle & St. Mary’s Church.

Aerial view.  Unusual, eh?  Coin evidence dates the Roman fort (the best preserved example north of the Alps) to around AD 268, the castle was built in the north western corner after the Norman Invasion in 1066, and the church in the 1120s.  The cricket match is timeless.

It’s interesting to note that the castle was used as a prison for a considerable period of its later history.

Captured Dutch soldiers were kept here in 1665, French prisoners-of-war in the 1700s, prisoners from the Caribbean at the end of the century,…

…and during the Napoleonic Wars, up to 8,000 French soldiers were incarcerated here at any one time.

Lych gate, with CWGC sign bottom right,…

…the view ahead,…

..and the view to our right.

All the war graves in this part of the churchyard are Second World War casualties,…

…and you can read the inscriptions on the CWGC headstones for yourselves (click to enlarge),…

…although this headstone is not so easy to read, and there’s more to it than meets the eye.  Commissioned Gunner Sidney James Cope was killed in action on 24th May 1941 aged 45.  24th May 1941 was a dark day for the British, because it was the day that H.M.S. Hood was hit by several German shells, one of which, probably fired by the German battleship Bismarck, hit her ammunition or torpedo store, at which point the Hood disappeared in an enormous explosion.  Just three men out of her crew of 1,418 survived, and Sidney Cope was not one of them.

View looking back towards the lych gate, Portsmouth harbour in the distance.

The grave of W. L. Wyllie (William Lionel, but only to his friends), English painter of maritime themes, born in 1851, died in 1931 and, apparently, ‘the most distinguished marine artist of his day’.  According to his wife.  I’m kidding; his works hang in galleries worldwide.

In this corner, beneath the Roman walls,…

…two headstones,…

…one a memorial to Chief Petty Officer Kevin Sullivan, aged 55, killed aboard H.M.S. Sheffield in the Falklands on 4th May 1982,…

My guess is that this old slab – dated 1794 – must have been on the floor inside the church once upon a time.

The Great War graves are to be found along this section of the churchyard,…

…on the left,…

…Gunner A. W. Ross, Royal Garrison Artillery, who died on 26th October 1918,…

…and on the right, Driver George Coombs, Royal Field Artillery, who died of pneumonia, probably flu-related, on 15th July 1918, aged 26.

The CWGC headstone on the left of these three graves…

…is that of Mate H. Burgess, H.M.S. “Furious”, who died on 27th January 1919 aged 32.

This memorial marks the grave of one brother and remembers another.  Second Lieutenant Norman Charles Clifford, Machine Gun Corps (Infantry), at the bottom of the headstone, was wounded on 20th September 1917, and later died of influenza on 13th February 1919 aged 27 and is buried here.  Above him, his elder brother, Private Sherred Paul Clifford, London Regiment, was killed in action in France on 15th December 1916 aged 26,…

…and is buried in Chester Farm Cemetery, his headstone seen here in the centre, where we visited a long time ago.

And if you can find a Gladstone Meatyard on the CWGC database, then you’re a better man, woman or whatever it is that you choose to be – how nice to have a choice – than me.  He seems to have been a corporal in the Royal Field Artillery.

There being a welcoming open door, we ought to go inside, because we like welcoming open doors.  Yes indeed.

Nice, and a large memorial on the left, too.

Close-up of the Great War names.

And I didn’t even get the chance to go into the castle.  Nonetheless, a most interesting place, and for those of you in the area, well worth a visit.

This entry was posted in Hampshire, U.K. Churches, Memorials & Cemeteries - Back in Blighty. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Portchester: Portchester Castle & St Mary’s Church & Churchyard

  1. Jon T says:

    Well this is somewhere we have been MF and it is a very interesting place for sure. Hadn’t realised all those CWGC graves were there though which is a shame. Must pay another visit at some point..

    “Gladstone Meatyard” – what a name !

  2. Barbara Grayson says:

    1901 Census shows MEATYARD Family Father Hedley d. 1917 Mother Blanche d. 1903
    1911 Census shows Gladstone living with his sister Ivy Madeline Blanche PUGH
    Ivy’s husband, Thomas PUGH 1632 RGA, was killed in action 012 December 1914.
    Ivy re-married in 1919 Harold W HALL
    Looking at name variations Corporal William Hedley Meteyard, RFA, died of wounds 01 July 1917 and is buried NOEUX-LES-MINES Communal Cemetery, France.
    The CWGC entry references his sister Miss B METEYARD
    Need to send you the Soldiers’s Effects Register details and details for a WILL (1924)
    which confirm links. Basically the children seem to have used a variant of their surname but kept their parents christian names.

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