October 18 – A walk around Titchfield Abbey and a visit to Porchester Castle

Portchester Memorial Gardens

Hello from 1066 – A Medieval Mosaic

We found another abbey to visit. Titchfield Abbey is a medieval abbey and later country house. It was founded in 1222 for Premonstratensian canons, an austere order of priests. What a great word that is! But too long for scrabble. They were also known as the White Canons, from the colour of their habit and are a religious order of Canons Regular of the Catholic Church founded in Prémontré near Laon in 1120 by Norbert of Xanten.

We had fun walking around the English Heritage site and collected the numbers for the church micro from all the boards as well and finally found the cache in the only place it could be. The Abbey is now a ruin and the church part was completely demolished from the days of the Reformation.

Next, we went to St Peter’s church in Titchfield. The stained glass windows were beautiful mostly Clayton and Bell from Victorian times. We worked out the coordinates for the church micro and set off. No that cannot be right. We changed one number and set off even further away and I ended up in a hedge with no sign of any cache. Finally, we gave up as you can only look for so long. Later decided that I must have put the numbers into the GPS wrong so maybe if we are back that way we can have another try.

Next, we headed to Portchester Castle. It is an English Heritage site with a medieval castle built within a former Roman fort at Portchester at the northern end of Portsmouth Harbour. It was probably founded in the late 11th century, Portchester was a baronial castle taken under royal control in 1154. The monarchy controlled the castle for several centuries and it was a favoured hunting lodge of King John. It was besieged and captured by the French in 1216 before permanently returning to English control shortly thereafter. Occupying a commanding position at the head of Portsmouth Harbour, in the medieval period, Portchester was an important port. The castle saw the disembarkation for several campaigns to France led by England’s kings.

The castle is now mostly a ruin except for the part which has been restored to a theatre and a museum. There is also a church within the high stone walled area. St Mary’s church is Norman and it was built for a priory of Augustinian canons founded in about 1128 by Henry I. Fire damage to the building by Dutch prisoners in 1653 was finally repaired by Queen Anne’s Bounty in 1706-10. Queen Anne’s Bounty was an act to give more money to poor clergy and churches. There is a lovely Queen Anne Coat of Arms on the wall. It also has some excellent stained glass windows, a font and some wall monuments. One of the wall monuments is for James Lind, a Scottish physician who was a pioneer of hygiene in the Royal Navy. He conducted the first-ever clinical trial and developed the theory that citrus fruit cured scurvy.

On the way through Portchester, I saw a sign to the memorial gardens, which rang a bell with me. I realised that this is where my maternal grandmother’s ashes were scattered. As we drove back passed we called in and soon found the spot where they were. This was a special moment for me as she died in 1994 and it was nice to be able to visit her. It is a nice place with a Book of Remembrance that is opened to the current date daily. I felt that it was a pity that small plaques could not be placed in the gardens as people obviously want to be able to leave flowers and memorabilia near their loved ones.