Portsdown Hill Countryside Service

Wednesday Workdays

picture picture picture photo

photo photo

Volunteers meet every Wednesday to help with a variety of essential maintenance tasks, including fencing, scrub cutting, hedgelaying and hedge planting. Meet at the East gate of Fort Widley at 10am. Tasks end at about 3pm, so bring lunch if you can stay all day. You are welcome to come for as long as you can manage. Volunteers also help out at other times, with unpredictable jobs or ones which just require an extra pair of hands.
If you wish to join us on Wednesdays or at any other time, please first e-mail Richard Jones or phone him on 023 9238 9623.

Guided Walks 2018

Please wear walking boots and don't forget your waterproofs. You may wish to bring something to eat and drink. Children and dogs are welcome. Meet at the East Gate of Fort Widley.

Berried treasure

Tuesday 9th October
10am - 1pm. The hill's bushes will be festooned with berries and other fruit, will shall be out taking a look.

Hello to winter

Tuesday 4th December
10am - 1pm. We will head off over the hill and down the lanes in search of environmental interest whilst taking a bracing walk.

Friends of Portsdown Hill

The October 2018 newsletter is available here as a PDF.

Evening Talks, 2018-19

Between October and April we have meetings on the second Wednesday of the month at the Church of the Resurrection hall, Brecon Avenue, Drayton, PO6 2AW, starting at 7.45pm.
We try to present an interesting range of talks with both local and not-so-local themes, covering wildlife, history, geology and anything else that we come across. The entrance fee is £2 including refreshments.
The next talk is on .

Wild about Portsmouth - discovering Portsmouth Museums' Natural History Collections

10th October
Christine Taylor is curator for the Wild about Portsmouth project, funded for two years by the Heritage Lottery Fund. It will concentrate on making full use of the council' collections to encourage people - particularly children - to develop an interest in the natural world.

The Honey Man

14th November
A talk by Roy Godfrey. He will talk to us about bee-keeping and making honey. Samples will be for sale.

The Purple Emperor in Hampshire

12th December
Ashley Whitlock will talk about this rather elusive butterfly, followed as always by seasonal refreshments.

Portsmouth - Harlots, Dung and Glory Part 3

9th January
Andrew Negus returns to entertain us with another chapter in our history. Parts 1 and 2 were presented in 2011 and 2012. Some notes from these are below, but are not required reading.

Archaeology in the Meon Valley

13th February
Guy Liardet is a trustee of the Meon Valley Archaeological and Heritage Group. For the past three summers the group has been excavating a Roman temple site at Exton.
Guy retired from the navy as a rear-admiral, worked for the British Chemical Industries trade association for four years, and afterwards obtained a first class honours degree in history from Southampton University majoring on the Dead Sea Scrolls and the history of Palestine in the Roman period.


13th March
Nik Knight returns to update us with observations from the world of bats.

AGM and Annual Review

10th April
The Friend's Annual General Meeting will be followed by a presentation from Richard Jones on what's been happening on the hill. There is no charge this evening.

Harlots, Dung and Glory (Parts I and II) - Portsmouth's History

9th November 2011. In his first installment Andrew Negus, a retired history teacher, gave us a graphic account of life in the city, up to the time of Nelson. Although we are somehow aware of the general unhygenic state of mediaeval cities, a couple of examples brought the dung aspect into uncomfortably sharp focus.
Harlots or Portsmouth Pollies, operating from the myriad of pubs on Spice Island, were revealed as a tough lot, with stone rings on their fingers, probably as knuckle-dusters. They were quite able to ensure that a sailor arriving with a good share of booty from a defeated enemy would leave with empty pockets.
As a Blue Badge Guide, Andrew was well-versed in the more official history, describing for example how the town was ex-communicated from the Catholic church for its general bad behaviour. The Duke of Buckingham's arrogance and long legs seem to have contributed largely to his murder by George Felton, who was promptly regarded as having done a good job. This didn't spare him from the gallows though.
Glory came about through the long-running success of the dockyard in building and maintaining the nation's navy, unphased by minor hickups such as the sinking of the Mary Rose. Nelson was a super-hero by the time he made his final departure, slipping out of a back-door to avoid the crowds.

10th October 2012. The concluding part took us from abject poverty up to today's relative prosperity. Famous people didn't escape the rough and tumble way of life. The future King William IV was floored in a pub by drinking someone else's ale, while Conan Doyle got the same treatment for trying to break up a fight between a man and his wife. After receiving a very bad press, the worst slums were eventually cleared. Andrew recalled the classic scenes of dockies streaming out of the dockyard on bikes. In one tale, a girl on a bike was carried along in the flow and had no option to go her own way before reaching North End.
Diversification is now the keyword, as dependence on the navy continues to decline. The major level of corset production in the early 20th century was perhaps a first attempt.