Photo of garden 26 June 2005

The Porter's Garden

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

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:: Annual report 2016
:: Annual reports - previous years

:: Images on this site Google site
:: Take the video tour 3:36
:: Flowering list
:: Come gardening:
10 - 1 the first weekend of the month. Also Weds 10 - 1 more...
The garden today
The garden in 1754
The garden wall
The Porter's Lodge
The porters
The Friends
Visitor information

:: Portsmouth & Southsea Tree Wardens. Notes on training event on 30 July 2014 at Hilsea Fruiting Hedge. more

:: Royal Marines 350th anniversary planter unveiled, 2 June 2014 more

:: St Fiacre unveiled 7 Feb 2013 more

:: John Phillipson puts up statue of St Fiacre 17 Oct 2012 more

:: Friends' autumn lunch 27 Sep 2012 pictures

:: Charles Dickens bed and Heritage Open Day, 1 Sep 2012 pictures

:: Wild garlic soup recipe

:: Portsmouth & Southsea Tree Wardens maintaining Hilsea fruiting hedge on 5 July 2012.

:: Charles Dickens Border opened by Professor Tony Pointon, 8 Feb 2012 more
Picture of red geranium flower. David Beaulieu
:: Charles Dickens and the Language of Flowers

:: Friends mark centenary of Captain Scott reaching the South Pole 17 Jan 2012 pictures

:: Friends' autumn lunch 29 Sep 2011 pictures

:: Visit to Osborne House 14 Sep 2011 pictures

:: Heritage Open Days 11 and 12 Sep 2011 pictures

:: first fruit of the Damson 29 July 2011; pomegranate first flowers pictures

:: Picking cherries and making jam 28 June 2011 pictures

:: Midsummer Garden Party on Sunday 19 June 2011 celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Friends of the Porter's Garden pictures
Portsmouth and Southsea Tree Wardens wardens site
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:: The garden in February 2011 pictures

:: Gardening day 10 Feb 2011 - planting a Shropshire Prune (Damson) tree pictures

:: Autumn lunch on 22 October 2010 more...

:: Decorated pigeon's nest spotted on 27 October 2010 more...

:: Heritage Open Days 11 and 12 September 2010 pictures   report

:: Koelreuteria paniculata (pride of India) in full flower 4 August 2010 pictures

:: John Phillipson puts up plaques 23 June 2010 more...

:: Midsummer garden party 20 June 2010 pictures

:: Looking good in the garden - 5 & 19 May 2010 - Spring pictures
:: 7:55 BBC's countryfile supports the Woodland Trust's Ancient Tree Hunt project and James Wong on a hunt for our oldest trees
:: Ancient Tree Hunt Hunt site
:: Annual report, March 2010 History of familiar plants - pinks, marjoram, foxgloves, borage, hops, monkshood

:: Snow falling in the garden - 6 January 2010 picture

:: Autumn lunch 22 September 2009 report pdf

:: Visit to Hill Garden and Kenwood House 20 July 2009 pictures, report

:: Sailor's knots more...

:: Midsummer garden party 21 June 2009 pictures

:: Mike Hall opens garden extension pictures

:: Building the garden extension pictures

:: Looking good in the garden - 10 December 2008 - mid Winter pictures

:: Painting of the garden by Jean Flack Munday

:: A delivery of well rotted manure - 12 November 2008 pictures

:: Looking good in the garden - October 2008 - Autumn pictures

:: Heritage tour of the garden and oldest building pictures

:: Looking good in the garden - 10 September 2008 - early Autumn pictures

:: Looking good in the garden - 24 August 2008 - Summer pictures

:: Looking good in the garden - 23 July 2008 - Summer pictures

:: Looking good in the garden - 28 June 2008 - Summer pictures

:: Visit to Hampton Court flower show 11 July 2008 pictures
:: Then and now pictures

:: Midsummer garden party 22 June 2008 pictures
:: Friends amend constitution 29 May 2008 more...

:: The garden - 14 May 2008 pictures

:: Jim Sykes opens 300th anniversary border more...

:: The garden - 23 April 2008 pictures

:: Looking good in the garden - 26 March & 9 April 2008 - Spring pictures

:: Looking good in the garden - 6 February 2008 - early Spring pictures

:: Looking good in the garden - 5 January 2008 - mid Winter pictures

:: Looking good in the garden - 12 December 2007 - Winter pictures

:: Looking good in the garden - 14 November 2007 - early Winter pictures

:: Looking good in the garden - 26 September 2007 - Autumn pictures
:: Looking good in the garden - 6 September 2007 - early Autumn pictures

:: Botanic illustration by June Mary Huckerby

:: Visit to Highdown Gardens report

:: Garden party 24 June 2007 pictures

:: The Porter's Back Garden more...

:: Colin White opening anti-slave trade border 25 March 2007 more...

:: Visit to Bury Court report

:: Autumn in the garden - 25 October 2006 pictures

:: Visit to Denmans report

:: Garden party 25 June 2006 pictures

:: An Echium pininana 12 feet high in full bloom. Also called the 'Tower of Jewels' or 'Pride of Tenerife', the flower spike is festooned with purple-blue, funnel-shaped flowers 19 May 2006. more...

:: Judas tree in blossom 13 May 2006

:: Morello cherry in blossom 26 April 2006

:: Lord Mayor Councillor Robin Sparshatt unveils the plaque awarded by the Portsmouth Society to the Porter's Garden for best landscaping 2005 on 9 April 2006

:: The Strawberry Tree before and after pruning on 15 February 2006 more...
:: In the 201st year since the Battle of Trafalgar, discover the hidden garden in the dockyard that built the navy's ships
:: Visit to Gilbert White's house and garden report

:: Visit to Highgrove report

:: Roger Stephens installing sculptured seats more...
:: The Porter's Garden project

:: Calendula and Sweet William 'Sooty' 

The garden today

3:36 Video filmed during the Heritage Open Day, 14th September 2008.

Transcript of video

Four walnut trees, yew and box hedges form the garden's main features. The Royal Navy has contributed two statues. At the entrance is Captain Robert Falcon Scott's statue sculpted by Kathleen Lady Scott in 1915. It commemorates his heroic attempt to reach the South Pole and death in 1912. To the east is William III 'finished in the manner of the Cæsars,' sculpted by van Ost and presented by Richard Norton in 1718. William's wars against Louis XIV led to the expansion of Portsmouth dockyard in the 1690s. He was also an enthusiastic gardener. Beyond is the stone found lodged in the hull of HMS Pique which ran aground in Labrador, but successfully crossed the Atlantic in 1835. 

More about the William III statue Memorials and Monuments in Portsmouth site.

Since Spring 2000 the Friends have been planing, digging and planting the whole garden. Morello cherries are along the dockyard wall and flower beds follow principles of eighteenth century design. 'Florist's' flowers reflect eighteenth century fashions. Exotic and useful plants commerate voyages of naval exploration and plant-finding. Herbs for everyday ailments link the garden to Mary Rose and Victory. The Porter's Garden was opened 21 June 2001 by Lord Mayor of Portsmouth councillor Elaine Baker and Lady Mayoress Miss Sheila Jackson. 

Commissions in iron and stone celebrate 500 years of dockyard skills. Two wrought iron gates made by Peter Clutterbuck, with the yew hedge, complete the enclosed feel of the original Porter's Garden site. Sculptor Roger Stephens installed three sculptured seats in 2005. Each has the shape of the cross section of the hull of one of the three historic ships, Mary Rose, HMS Victory and HMS Warrior 1860. Roger designed the seats. He made them from six granite blocks, of total weight 10 tons, that had formed a cart track in Portsmouth dockyard. 

Roger Stephens installing sculptured seats more...

The garden is open to the public all year for lunchtime relaxation, school educational sessions, occasional theâtre, installations, recitals and concerts. 

William III bed in September 2001. The flowers are heliotropes, purple sage, delphiniums, with iris and violas in the background.

William III bed in September 2001

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The garden in 1754

The Friends have discovered four eighteenth century maps of the Porter's Garden. This map of 1754 shows his house, stables and two small trees in his garden. 

Extract from Thomas Milton's Plan and View of Portsmouth Dockyard, 1754

map of 1754

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The garden wall

The dockyard wall - the garden wall - was built in 1711, so that 'Ill disposed people inclineing to Purloine, are shut out from doing hurt from the Land'. It also defined the boundary of the Porter's garden. The gate provided the setting for many embezzlements and a dramatic labour dispute in 1743. It was also used to publish regulations and invite tenders for dockyard contracts and outside projects, such as St George's Chapel, built in 1753 by dockyard shipwrights and house carpenters. 

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The Porter's Lodge

The Porter's Lodge was built in 1708 and is the Dockyard's oldest surviving building, but an earlier Porter's watch house stood at the gate in 1698. Other dockyard officers, whose gardens survive, lived in the Commissioner's house and Long and Short Rows. 

The Porter's Lodge photo John Scott

The Porter's Lodge

This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

List entry - The National Heritage List for England English Heritage site

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The porters

Two porters lived in the Porter's Lodge from 1739-1800, William Woodrow (1739-1780) and Thomas Butler (1780-1800).

The porter had three functions. He guarded dockyard boundaries and property and marked working hours by ringing the muster bell and closing the gate against latecomers. To prevent excessive theft of timber, 'chips', he allowed 'no Person to pass out of the Dock Gates with great Coats, large Trousers or any other outer dress that can conceal stores of any kind.' He also sold beer to the men 'to enable them the better to carry on their labour and not to distemper them'. The Porter's life is revealed through his job and outside activities. In 1753, described as a 'Gentleman', Woodrow was one of the original pew owners of St George's Chapel, owning one of the larger pews on the ground floor costing £30. He was the public face of the dockyard, the daily interface between the inside and outside communities. 

Notice of sale of effects of Thomas Butler. 

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The Friends of the Porter's Garden

For the millennial 'Renaissance of Portsmouth Harbour', in 1998 Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust commissioned landscape architects Camlin Lonsdale to design a new garden on the site of the former Porter's garden. During the twentieth century the site had been used for police cells, the Police Superintendent's Office and an air raid shelter, so it was an architectural confusion. Hampshire Gardens Trust and local residents were consulted. In Spring 2000 a Friends' committee was set up. 

Friends of the Porter's Garden hard at work during the planting season (Ann Coats)


The Friends have visited local gardens to plan its design and planting, mindful of soil, aspect and rainfall. Hampshire Gardens Trust, Brian Kidd, Portsmouth Parks Environmental Officer, Petersfield Physic Garden and Staunton Country Park have helped and advised us. 

How to become a Friend

Our objectives
To recreate the historical, educational and recreational value of the Porter's Garden, to create a garden which is relaxing for dockyard personnel and visitors, accessible to the local community, with an intimate atmosphere, and link Portsmouth Historic Dockyard with outside communities. 

Constitution pdf

What will you gain from becoming a Friend?
You will visit other gardens and horticultural societies and listen to lectures on eighteenth century gardening techniques and the history of gardening. You may elect the committee and attend monthly committee meetings. The Annual General Meeting will be held in April. You will help the garden grow. 
How can you help the Friends?
Pay an annual subscription of £5, due on 1 April, care for the garden by attending gardening days, propagate selected plants from seeds and cuttings at home, read about eighteenth century gardens, donate plants for fund-raising seasonal plant sales, participate in historical research and interpretation - apply to join the Friends of the Porter's Garden. Application form for the Friends of the Porter's Garden 
Planting and maintenance
Many hands make light work and it is very satisfying and enjoyable to see the results. There are a variety of tasks, from digging to weeding to transplanting young plants. A garden watering rota has been arranged for the summer but volunteers are always needed for Tuesdays and Saturdays. We have hose-pipes and sprinklers laid around the garden to make the task easier, so please contact me on 023 9286 3799 if you have any spare time and can help in any way. 

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The Friends of the Porter's Garden had pleasure in receiving awards in the Portsmouth and Southsea in Bloom competition, an initiative sponsored by Portsmouth City Council. 

2003 Best Historic Garden
2002 Most Attractive Historic Garden 


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Visitor information

Opening times

The garden is open to the public all year (except 25 December): 
April to October - 10.00am to 5.30pm; and
November to March - 10.00am to 5.00pm.

Free entry

Entry to the Porter's Garden, the Historic Dockyard itself, and the shops and restaurant, is free (except on occasional days).

To check that entry is free on the day you wish to visit please call:

  • Flagship Portsmouth Trust Administration 023 9286 1533 (Mon-Fri 9-5) or
  • (on Saturday and Sunday) the Visitor Centre 023 9272 2562.
You need to buy a ticket to go into the attractions of Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. 


The Porter's Garden is situated on the right just inside Victory Gate of Portsmouth Dockyard, at the corner of Queen Street and the Hard map ( new window), which is a five minute walk from Portsmouth Harbour rail station, the bus station at the Hard and Gosport Ferry. 

How to get to the Porter's Garden

How to get to the Porter's Garden in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard (new window) Historic Dockyard site.


For somewhere to stay - hotels, guest houses, bed & breakfast, self catering, camping and caravans:

Portsmouth Visitor Information Service (new window). 

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Dr Ann V Coats, Coordinator
The Friends of the Porter's Garden 
44 Lindley Avenue
Southsea PO4 9NU
United Kingdom 

Phone/Fax: +44 (0)23 9286 3799 


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The Porter's Garden in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard
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Page last updated: 14 October 2022
Copyright © The Friends of the Porter's Garden 2002-2014