Portsdown U3A

Buildings Appreciation Group
  • Last Updated: 13 Jan 2018


The group has continued to maintain good attendance numbers and members have consistently brought interesting and comprehensive contributions to our discussions. I am proud of them !

We decided to look at Greek and Roman architecture as they have had such a strong influence on classical buildings. We aim to consider architecture in Britain preferably, so not a lot of it around here ! However, we did do a successful visit to Fishbourne Roman villa in November – much enjoyed by all. We spent a good bit of time in the garden, restored to its Roman plan and plantings, as it was a lovely sunny, but cold, day. We tourned the mosaics and their informative accompanying notice boards, which are now under cover. Don’t be surprised at that comment if you haven’t recently visited – many of us hadn’t been since our children were small, and MUCH has changed ! Do take yourself there if you are in that situation – you will be pleasantly surprised.

We had a talk in the afternoon given by a member of staff who kept us enthralled for longer than her alloted hour. In her reply to my letter of thanks, she said that she had been happy to do so, as we had asked such intelligent questions !!!!! We got to handle various pieces, such as tiles, and other materials. Afterwards, we broke up into smaller groups and did different things – it would have been good to linger longer there.

We recommence on 23rd January at my home where we will be discussing mostly Saxon architecture. Again, not a lot of evidence, but several people have idenitifed churches in the area and we are hoping to visit some of them – and maybe a recontruction as well. At this meeting, we also need to discuss if we need to find a venue for meetings as we sometiems get a bit squashed in each other’s homes. We will end with a post-Christmas lunch – always good to extend the eating – and the waistlines…..

Despite the above, if you would like to join us, we would be pleased to welcome you. You can catch me at the U3A meetings or contact me by email.

Group Leader: Christine London
Email: contact@portsdownu3a.org.uk






Our Group


Group Meeting Notes – Jan 2017



1. Present Leslye, Chris, Janet, Julie, Shirley, Christine, Janice, Colin, Jill, Lynne, Pam, Lesley, Audrey.

2. Welcome to Chris, Shirley, Janet and Lynne. Happy New Year to you all.

3. Apologies Mary D, Viv, Mary C.

4. Future Meetings: After discussion, we decided to defer room-hire.
February 28th: – Janice – we’ll discuss guidelines for future meetings.
March 28th: – Colin (t.b.c.) n.b. day after return from Folkestone!!
April 25th: – Janet
May 23rd: Janice or Christine (or make a trip out,locally??)
June 27th: – Chris
July 25th: – Julie

5. Other Possible Trips:

I mentioned the variety of styles one can see from the London Eye, and maybe we could also consider going to the R.I.B.A. sometime (in Portland Place, near the BBC) Also, bus company ‘Majestic’ are doing a trip to Lincoln and their ‘blurb’ mentioned several styles of architecture to be seen on the excursions. Cost £250 for 4days/5 nights. I will also suggest it to the Travel Group. Only snag is the dates – 22/5 or 14/8! Let me know if you are interested – I’d prefer the May one…Christine

6. TV programmes:

‘Britain beneath your feet’ BBC 4, 24 Jan’ i.e. you’d have to watch on catch up now!!! Look out in Feb for the film we watched about building a castle in France (currently being ‘advertised’ on BBC) . Also, on catch-up, Alexander Armstrong’s series called “Italy’s Invisible Cities’ – Naples, Venice & Florence – fascinating!


1. Apologies – Mary C,Mary D, Viv N, Beryl , Chris Hatton (possible new member)

2. Welcome to JanetH – new member

3. AGM – Buildings are down to do the tea! Audrey will set up and Janice, Colin and Janet offered to help with serving and clearing up. (Thanks, folks)

4. November meeting of Buildings Group – 22nd, at Julie’s, Colin will chair and write up the notes. Subject – High Tech.

5. December meeting – 20th – at Janice’s. She’ll do a quiz and refreshments. If group members want to contribute , they can!

6. January meeting – 24th – at Christine’s (provisionally). Audrey offered to help. (Thanks again)

7. Christine passed round a photo and description of ‘mathematical tiles’

8. Christine mentioned the displays in Portsmouth City Museum, 1st floor, especially ‘Living in Portsmouth’. Free, and worth a visit!

9. Please would you all keep an eye out for trips that have an architectural focus, as it would be good to tie up our studies with actual buildings, or remains of! (E.g. Iron Age Farm, Fishbourne, Bursledon etc)

10. Many thanks for your card and good wishes, much appreciated! Please do come and visit me!

11. Many thanks to Colin and Lorraine for their hospitality and yummy cake!

Christine London 19.10.16

Visit To Fareham High Street – by Christine London

A small, intrepid, keen (or daft, considering the forecast ?) group met at Westbury Manor Museum in Fareham with the intention of exploring Fareham High Street, renowned for its Conservation area with a variety of historic buildings. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find my copy of the Fareham Town Walk, itself an historic document, it seems, as there were none in the Museum/tourist Info Centre). Fortunately, Francoise was with us, and she had kept several of the copies, as had Audrey, which enabled us to set off fore-armed !

We spent a little time in the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul which has a variety of different styles – a useful ‘revision’ exercise in itself ! Once back outside, drizzle had begun, but this determined band continued down one side of the High Street, alternately reading the leaflet and observing and commenting on the fancy buildings. I used to work there, but this walk gave me a totally different perspective on once-familiar buildings. Isn’t that why we do it ??!!

As we got to the bottom of the High Street, the rain was getting the better of us, despite our truly English habit of never going without raincoats, so we repaired back to Westubry Manor for one of their delicious coffees. En route, however, we called in at one of the estate agents to get the details on one of the Georgian buildings that is up for sale !! The very helpful, if slightly bemused, staff provided us with sumptuous brochures. So if you have £700,000 to spare, let us know !

We found the vist so interesting, despite the awful weather, that we will try to repeat it, as Janice said, “when we have some sunshine in the winter” !!!! Do let me know if you would like to join us (anyone in U3A is welcome).
Many thanks to Francoise, who saved the day with her leaflets and her persuasive explanation to the estate agents !


Bricks and Building

We met at Beryl’s house for a very special occasion. Beryl’s brother, John, is a builder and had kindly agreed to come and talk to the Buildings Appreciation group about Bricks and Building. He had brought several (specially cleaned !) bricks with him in his car, and told us some of their history and how building, as a trade, has changed over his time, including some amusing anecdotes to make our hair curl !!

Brick Overview


He showed us a beautiful hand-written book, loaned to him by a friend, which had been compiled during his apprenticeship. It was a thing to treasure ! John proved a lively and entertaining speaker, and we were left feeling we would have liked to hear more and ask more questions.


Visit to The Watts Artist Village on 26th July 2016 – by Colin




A lively group of ladies and I assembled on a pleasant, dry day for a guided tour of The Watts Village.

After following part of The Pilgrims Way, we were led through the wood to George and Mary Watts’ home, Limnerslease. An architect who early trained Sir Edwin Lutyens designed the house in a style sometimes known as “West Surrey Vernacular” (although some might say “Stockbrokers Tudor”).



From there, we re-crossed the road to make our way to the Watts Cemetery Chapel; a confection almost beyond description so richly applied is the decoration.



It may be argued that the porch is as fine as may be seen in any small church or chapel in England. Does it echo that of Kilpeck, Herefordshire, which is often acclaimed in ecclesiastical guidebooks as a gem?

Noted in the cemetery were burials of relatives of the Huxley literary family.

From the chapel we returned to the Visitor Centre to complete the tour at the front of the Watts Gallery building. After thanking our two excellent guides we adjourned for lunch.

A small contingent continued to tour the Gallery after lunch, taking in an important display of the Watts oeuvre.

All had an enjoyable day and thanks are due to our indomitable organiser, Christine, for making it happen!

N.B. All opinions expressed are my own and any factual errors are, sadly, entirely mine as well.


Some of the highlights, apart from the meetings, have been – a self-guided walk around Titchfield, led by Francoise, who also did a similar tour of Fareham. Sadly this was fairly comprehensively ‘rained off’ but we hope to repeat it.

In October, we did another walking tour, of Thomas Ellis Owen’s Victorian buildings in Southsea.

Southsea Walk
Southsea Walk

We took ourselves to Fort Nelson for our Christmas lunch ( missed the guns, we were so busy talking !). This followed a very interesting tour of the beautiful church at Wymering, organised by Pam and Jill. On another occasion, we looked at photos we’d taken, of buildings, on Audrey’s TV, and on another we watched Julie’s TV ! This was a recorded programme about building a castle in France, from ‘scratch’, imitating its medieval builders.



Group Meeting Notes – Oct 2016


Visit to the Iron Age Farm at Butser Hill, Petersfield – April 2017

On one of the coldest days of the year members of the Buildings Appreciation Group combined forces with members of the Travel Group and visited the Iron Age Farm at Butser Hill. We came fully equipped with woolly hats, scarves and warm coats.

One of our individual projects covered research on this era so the visit reinforced our learning and was a fascinating and interesting experience thanks David who was our guide.

The photos show a collection of reproduced Iron Age buildings – roundhouses and a long house – that had been built personally by David after extensive and detailed research from all parts of the UK. All buildings were constructed from materials that had been sourced locally.

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