HMS Renown was the lead ship of her class of battlecruisers of the Royal Navy built during the First World War. She was originally laid down as an improved version of the Revenge-class battleships. Her construction was suspended on the outbreak of war on the grounds she would not be ready in a timely manner. Admiral Lord Fisher, upon becoming First Sea Lord, gained approval to restart her construction as a battlecruiser that could be built and enter service quickly. The Director of Naval Construction (DNC), quickly produced an entirely new design to meet Admiral Lord Fisher's requirements and the builders agreed to deliver the ships in 15 months. They did not quite meet that ambitious goal, but the ship was delivered a few months after the Battle of Jutland in 1916. Renown, and her sister HMS Repulse, were the world's fastest capital ships upon completion. 
     Renown did not see combat during the war and was reconstructed twice between the wars; the 1920s reconstruction increased her armour protection and made other more minor improvements, while the 1930s reconstruction was much more thorough. The ship frequently conveyed royalty on their foreign tours and served as flagship of the Battlecruiser Squadron when Hood was refitting. 
     During the Second World War, Renown was involved in the search for the  Admiral Graf Spee in 1939, participated in the Norwegian Campaign of April–June 1940 and the search for the German battleship Bismarck  in 1941. She spent much of 1940 and 1941 assigned to Force H at Gibraltar, escorting convoys and she participated in the inconclusive Battle of Cape Spartivento.           Renown was briefly assigned to the Home Fleet and provided cover to several Arctic convoys in early 1942. The ship was transferred back to Force H for Operation Torch and spent much of 1943 refitting or transporting Winston Churchill and his staff to and from various conferences with various Allied leaders. In early 1944, Renown was transferred to the Eastern Fleet in the Indian Ocean where she supported numerous attacks on Japanese-occupied facilities in Indonesia and various island groups in the Indian Ocean. The ship returned to the Home Fleet in early 1945 and was refitted before being placed in reserve after the end of the war. Renown was sold for scrap in 1948. 



     From 1st January, 1904 the Motor Car Act decreed that all motor vehicles must carry a licence plate so that they could be traced. They were to carry a one- or two-letter code, and a number from 1 to 999. The letters were allocated by location, so London was A, Lancashire B, Hampshire AB etc. Earl Russell camped out all night to be first in the queue to receive the distinctive plate A1.



     With a history more in keeping with a courtroom than a public house, it is not surprising that this listed building changed its name from The Black Dog to the Courthouse in 1996. Throughout most of the nineteenth century, The Black Dog in West street acted as the Magistrates Court, with such local dignitaries as Sir Frederick Fitzwygram of Leigh Park and John Deverell of Purbrook overseeing the Petty Sessions. Before the Town Hall was built, the Black Dog Assembly Rooms were used for important town meetings as well as a place of entertainment for the people of Havant.



     Ringwood lies beside the River Avon which is famous for a rare kind of eel, called locally a ‘sniggle; unlike the Common Eel, it has an elongated jaw and slender form. A local industry in Ringwood in the past was the manufacture of gloves know as ‘Ringwoods’, which were knitted by local women in their homes in a distinctive ‘Ringwood’ pattern: two rounds plain, one round rib. In the mid 20th century nearly 900 women were employed knitting the gloves for sale to London stores. Yellow cotton gloves were particularly popular with horse-riders. Commercial production ceased in the 1960s, when competition of cheap machine-made gloves from the Far East made the hand knitting of gloves uneconomical.



     Because it was a garrison town there were numerous barracks in Portsmouth. Within a few years of each other, for example, are the Cambridge Barracks in the High Street and the Clarence Barracks round the corner in Museum Road.
     The Cambridge Barracks, built in the 1850s in a classical eighteenth-century style, are now occupied by the Portsmouth Grammar School. The Clarence Barracks, although built only thirty years later, were a riot of turrets and gables in the style of a French chateau. There used to be several blocks including Victoria Barracks. The surviving one has been converted into the City Museum and Art Gallery.






     The Domus Dei, or Royal Garrison Church, has a curious history. It was founded in 1212 by the Bishop of Winchester as a hospice - offering accommodation to travellers and pilgrims as well as to the sick and the elderly. It was dedicated to St John the Baptist and St Nicholas, the patron saint of sailors.
     In 1450, the Bishop of Chichester, Adam Moleyns, was murdered near the Domus Dei. He had been sent by the King to pay some of the soldiers and sailors. However, the amount did not equal what the men were owed so they killed the Bishop. For this crime the whole town was excommunicated and remained under an interdict for fifty years.
     The Domus Dei was closed when the monasteries were dissolved in 1540. After a brief spell as an armoury, part of it became the residence of the military Governors of Portsmouth. As such it was used for the marriage of Charles II to Catherine go Braganza, the Infanta of Portugal, on 21st May 1622. Catherine brought Tangier and Bombay to the King as part of her dowry and this was the beginning of the British interest in India.
     In 1827 the Governor’s House was demolished except for the infirmary hall and the chapel which became the Royal Garrison Church. It was diligently restored in the 1860s by the eminent Victorian architect, G.E. Street, but was badly damaged during the Second World War. The chancel largely dates from the thirteenth century, the roofless nave is nineteenth century. It is owned by the Department of the Environment and is open to the public, but it is still a consecrated church.



     Private cremations had been taking place sporadically since the 1880s. In 1902 the Cremation Act came into force, extending the rights of burial authorities to allow them to establish crematoria from 1st April, 1903. No crematorium could be closer than 50 yards to any public highway, or within 200 yards of any dwelling house without the written consent of the owner. Private cremation on an open-air pyre was subject to a penalty of up to £50.



     The Isle of Wight Council has delayed plans to build a new £4 million record office because of budgetary pressures. The council had been discussing plans for a new facility at Westridge with the National Archives. But in March it rejected the proposals, because of the need to make savings worth £4.5 million in its 2020/2021 budget. Instead, the council will maintain and improve the existing record office in Newport.



     Many websites covering this period feature memories and oral histories, but when it comes to hard evidence, the 1939 Register is the nearest we have to a census. It records the 40 million-plus people alive in England and Wales on 29th September, 1939, just weeks after Operation Pied Piper began. The register reveals more about your ancestors’ war-time experience than just a census. It includes Home Front roles such as the ARP Warden, special constable or St John’s Ambulance volunteer. The register is available on Findmypast at



     Almost 1,700 new burial plots could be created at Hound Cemetery in Netley Abbey. The proposal is to convert a disused field behind St Mary the Virgin Street in Hound Road.



     More than four billion digital record images are now searchable by place on The world’s largest free family history website holds billions of historic images, but about eighty per cent, have not been searchable by name. However, members can now type the name of a city, county, state or country into a new Explore Historical Images tool at and view collections of browsable records.



     Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie was born on 15th September, 1890 at Ashfield, Torquay, Devon. She was to become the best-selling novelist of all time, and the writer of the longest-running play, The Mousetrap.



     Frederick Henry Royce, co-founder of the Manchester firm FH Royce and Co. married Minnie Grace Punt at St Andrew’s Church, Willesden, Middlesex on 16th March 1893. The company produced its first car in 1904, and the spin-off Rolls-Royce was born two years later.











Because of the current virus situation, we are unfortunately closed. Please watch this page for further details 





was 1,819

and has now reached 7,197,843

Total updated 25th May, 2020




     By order of the Prime Minister, we are not allowed to hold our meetings for the foreseeable future. This means that our website pages will be our only communication to our members and patrons and so we are very grateful as this usually totals over 2,000 each week. However, our computer network is also ‘down’ at the moment.

     I would also like to thank the many Emails and Messages that have come in each week and for these I personally, thank each and every one of you.

     Obviously like everyone else, we are not fully operative at the moment, so please keep in touch with these pages. Thank you very much.



     Many websites covering this period feature memories and oral histories, but when it comes to hard evidence, the 1939 Register is the nearest we have to a census. It records the 40 million-plus people alive in England and Wales on 29th September, 1939, just weeks after Operation Pied Piper began. The register reveals more about your ancestors’ war-time experience than just a census. It includes Home Front roles such as the ARP Warden, special constable or St John’s Ambulance volunteer. The register is available on Findmypast at



     Our patch of the woods has the greatest concentration and variety of fortifications anywhere in the British Isles. When war broke out with France in 1415, the King, Henry V, ordered the improvement of defences including the building of a tower so that ‘….the safe custody of the King’s ships might be assures’. This was the beginning of the Round Tower, the first defensive building in Portsmouth. It was one of a pair of towers at each side of the harbour entrance
     The Round Tower has been altered many times since it was built, but the base of the fabric appears to be Tudor. There were many reconstructions during the Elizabethan period and the Napoleonic Wars and then in the 1850s it was modified again and built up to its present height. The Square Tower was built in 1494 by order of Henry VII and like the other defences in the town, it was designed for a new form of warfare which employed gunpowder and had thick walls to resist cannon fire rather than high ones to resist scaling.



     A father's 14-year search for his son's grave after the First World War is among the moving stories revealed in archives made public for the first time. 

     The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is providing online access to more than 1,000 'inquiry files' that record its correspondence with families looking for the location of fallen soldiers.



leather cutter - cutter of leather in the manufacture of shoes in medieval times. Generally worked in the same buiding as shoemakers. 
marriage house keeper - Keeper of a ‘chapel’ for marriages before the laws of marriage were regularised. The person conducting the marriage was often a publican or other non-minister of religion and collected a fee for the ceremony.
novice monk/nun - Entrants to monasteries had to pay a fee in either cash or land to train as a monk. Novices were on probation for a year and could not join a monastery under the age of 18
poetaster - A petty poet who sold or read his own work in exchange for small amounts of money.
sedan carrier - Carrier of a 17th/18th century form of carriage in which two poles were used to carry a passenger chair (sometimes covered), with two men carrying, ne man being at the front and one at the back.

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