Though the present structure only dates from a rebuild in 1968, there has been a pub on this site at least since the eighteenth century. At that time it was called the Green Dragon, then it was renamed the Cambridge Tavern in the 1850s. Someone here in the 1920s had a good eye for the growing tourist trade, for at that time the namre was again changed to the Duke of Buckingham. This linked it to the site on the other side of the stret where an assassination took place.
George Villiers was born in 1592. He rose quickly in status at the court of James I from his first visit in 1614 to being made the first Duke of Buckingham in 1623, possibly because he was the king's lover. His meteoric ris was not matched bu his abilities, and he led an unsuccessful campaign in France during one of England's many wars with that country.
The duke was staying at a house in Portsmouth High Street on 23rd August 1628. As he left that morning, he was stabbed to death by one John Felton, who had been a captain in the army that had fought under the duke in France. Felton had personal grievances about unreceived backpay and a lack of promotion, and it is possible he was also suffering from what we now recognise as post-traumatic stress disorder.
After the killing a crowd naturally gathered,and Felton did not run but instead announced to the crowd that it was his work This seems irrational, but Felton may have had good grounds for thinking he would be acclaimed a hero because of the duke's unpopularity. Nevertheless, he was arrested, and later tried and hung in London. Felton's body was brought back to Portsmouth to be put on display as a warning to others, but in rather an ironic twist, it was treated with respect by the locals, rather than despised as the authorities had hoped.
The house where the duke was staying on the fateful day can still be seen a little further back towards the grammar school on the opposite side of the road.
The Eclipse Inn dates from 1540 and over the past centuries the building has had many uses including a rectory, private residence, ale house in 1750 and from the nineteenth century and Inn. A Grey Lady has reputedly been seen several times in one of the corridors upstairs and this apparition is said to be Dame Alice Lisle of Moyles Court.
Lady Lisle was executed on 2nd September 1685 in Winchester Market Place for harbouring traitors folowing the failed Monmouth Rebellion. Originally sentenced to being burnt at the stake by the Hanging. Judge George Jeffreys, Lady Lisle was
ted on 2nd September 1685 in Winchester Market Place for harbouring traitors following the failed Monmouth Rebellion. Originally sentenced to being burnt at the stake by the hanging, in one of the first cases brought to trial in the Bloody Assizes, King Ja
mes II commuted the sentence to beheading after she made a personal appeal to him. Alice spent her last night in an upper storey room of the building which is now The Eclipse Inn and stepped through a window of the building onto a specially made scaffold.