Gosport’s 800th Anniversary of Founder’s Day

How Gosport Celebrated its 800th Anniversary on its Founder’s Day August 25th,  2004

Mayor Keith Edwards had promised the townspeople a colourful “ Founder’s Day ” Parade and Civic Thanksgiving Service. On 25th August – the exact date of the Founder’s Charter, two fine Pipers in full Highland dress led the scarlet and gold procession all the way down Gosport’s High Street and along the Millennium Promenade. The crowds cheered and followed them in the bright sunshine.

Portsmouth’s Lord Mayor in gold regalia followed Gosport’’s Mayor and Mayoress. They preceded visiting and ex-Mayors, Aldermen and serving Councillors in their blue robes, Gosport clergy, the Choir and Dancing Girls. They formed a huge circle by the Timespace Sundial overlooking Portsmouth Harbour.

Bringing up the rear, in a horse-drawn carriage were the four boys from Newtown School who buried the “Time Capsule”. With them was 84 year old Joan Russell, Gosport’s “Citizen of the year 2004”. Her carefully researched book “Gosport 800” had told in simple form, the dramatic story leading to Gosport’s foundation. And the tragic fiasco that followed.

After the Mayor’s welcome, his chaplain Revd. Ted Goodyer led Gosport’s Thanksgiving Service. It celebrated the town’s 800-year history and its progress from tiny medieval “vill” to important military and naval seaport, evolving to our present “Gosport, the Modern Millennium Town” . Accompanied by the Gosport Silver Band, Mr Paul Pilott’s choir led the hymns and sang their Anthem in rousing voice. And the Ashley School of Dance gave a gracefully undulating interpretation of a dance called appropriately “The Sea”.

Then four school-children helped the Mayor bury a Time Capsule at the entrance from the Promenade “near the shore of Portsmouth Harbour, scarce half a mile from the very mouth of the Haven” As mentioned before, this was the site of Gosport’s first 1204 chapel. It was described in his 1542 “Itineraries” by Tudor traveller John Leland

The enthusiastic crowd cheered the colourful procession, led by the kilted Pipers, back to the Town Hall. There, along with refreshments, 800th Anniversary Toasts were proposed. A fine Anniversary cake was cut. The visiting Mayors were generous in their congratulations over the manner in which Gosport’s “ Founder’s Day ” had been celebrated. Some expressed envy of Gosport’s good fortune in having a specific 800th Anniversary date to celebrate!

Joan Russell,  President Gosport St Vincent Local History Club.