Portsmouth (Ports'muth), the chief naval arsenal of Great Britain, and an important seaport, market-town, and municipal, parliamentary, and county borough, in the south of Hampshire, stands on the south-west shore of Portsea Island (q.v.), at the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour, and opposite the town of Gosport (q.v.), with which it communicates by means of a steam-bridge. It is 74 miles SW. of London, 44 W. of Brighton, and 23 SE. of Southampton. Besides the parish of Portsmouth, the limits of the municipal and parliamentary borough, which are co-extensive, include also the parish and town of Portsea, and the out-wards Landport and Southsea, and comprise the whole of Portsea Island, with the exception of a small portion in the north-east corner. Pop. of the borough (1821)69,479; (1851)72,096; (1881)127,989; (1901) 188,133. Portsmouth is for the most part a mean-looking, dirty town, but has the most complete fortifications in Britain. These comprise, on the landward side, the outer line of the Portsdown forts and the Hilsea lines; to seaward, the Spit-head (q.v.) forts. A portion of the imposing bastioned ramparts, which encircled both Portsmouth and Gosport, have since 1872 been removed as useless. Southsea, which is situated outside the walls skirting Southsea Common, is now a fashionable watering-place. Many improvements have been carried out in Portsmouth, including improved drainage, and the opening of the Victoria Park in 1878; a new town-hall, built at a cost of £140,000, was opened by the Prince of Wales in 1890. The church of St Thomas, whose chancel and transept date from the close of the 12th century, the nave and tower from 1698, contains a ghastly cenotaph in memory of the murdered Duke of Buckingham. The Garrison Chapel, Early English in style, and finely restored by Street in 1867, is a fragment of the hospital of St Nicholas, founded in 1212. In it Charles II. married Catharine of Braganza; and in front of it is buried the brave Sir Charles James Napier. The dockyard, in the district of Portsea, was till 1872 only 116 acres in extent; but vast works, carried out at a cost of £2,500,000, have increased the area to 293 acres. Noteworthy features are the mast and rope houses, hemp-stores, rigging-stores, sail-loft, the twelve dry-docks, the building-slips, the wood-mills, with the block-making machines, the smithy, with its Nasmyth's hammer, etc. Portsmouth Harbour, about 400 yards wide at its entrance, expands into a spacious basin, extending 4 miles inland, and having a breadth of 3 miles along its northern shore. Large war-vessels can enter and lie at anchor at all times of the tide, there being 4 fathoms of water in the channel at low-water. The outward entrance is defended by Forts Monckton and Gilkicker, and Southsea Castle. The harbour is situated in the middle of the channel, close to the magnificent anchorage of Spithead, where 1000 ships of the line may ride without inconvenience, and is under shelter of the Isle of Wight, and opposite the French arsenal of Cherbourg. The importance of this port dates only from the reign of Henry VIII. Its defences were commenced by Edward IV., and strengthened by Elizabeth and William III. Here, in a house that still remains, the Duke of Buckingham was assassinated by Felton. In 1782 the Royal George went down at Spithead, and nearly 1000 lives were lost. Charles Dickens was born at 387 Mile End Terrace, Commercial Road, Landport, Portsea; and other worthies have been Walter Besant, the younger Brunei, Jonas Hanway, Sir Frederick Madden, George Meredith, and John Pounds. See works by L. Allen (1817), H. Slight (1828), H. P. Wright (1873), W. H. Saunders (1880), and Murrell and East (1884).
Portsmouth, (1) the metropolis and only seaport of New Hampshire, on the Piscataqua's south bank, 3 miles from the Atlantic, and 57 by rail NNE. of Boston. Built on a beautiful peninsula, overlooking a capacious and deep harbour, it is a handsome old town, many of its streets lined with shade-trees, and is a favourite summer-resort. It has a custom-house; the manufactures include cotton, hosiery, shoes, iron-casting, and shipbuilding. At Kittery, on an island opposite, is a U.S. navy-yard. Here in 1905 peace was concluded between Russia and Japan. Pop. 10,640. - (2) Capital of Scioto county, Ohio, stands among hills in an iron region, on the Ohio River, at the mouth of the Scioto, and at the south terminus of the Ohio Canal, 106 miles by rail ESE. of Cincinnati. Pop. 17,870. - (3) A city and port of Virginia, on the Elizabeth River, opposite Norfolk (q.v.). Gosport, with its navy-yard, etc., is a suburb. Portsmouth contains a dry-dock and a naval hospital. Pop. 17,450.