Portsdown U3A

Buildings Appreciation Group
  • Last Updated: 29 Aug 2018


The Buildings Appreciation Group “does what it says on the tin” !   We meet to discuss architectural styles through the ages, so that we can better appreciate the built environment around us, wherever we may be.

We tend to concentrate on buildings in Great Britain since these provide us with actual examples. After a year or two of going “quickly” through the architectural styles in a fairly general way, we’ve now embarked on a slightly different strategy. Each person in the group volunteers to do some research on an aspect of the style currently under discussion, e.g. doors, windows, arches, etc. When we meet, we ‘report back’ individiually, by whatever means we choose (not obligatory – someone else can do this for you, if you wish).

We support our learning from the above, by visiting a local example of the period we’re studying. We have visited Butser Iron Age Farm, Boarhunt and Idsworth churches in the recent past. The members organise these, usually a fairly low-cost exercise. Occasionally, we have a guided tour of a place, where the same applies, plus contributing to the tour guide’s fee, of course.

We meet on the fourth Tuesday morning of each month, except August, from 10.30 to 12 noon, at the Nugee Room, in Sts. Peter & Paul church at Wymering, for which there is a small charge to cover the cost of hiring the room and refreshments if required.

If you think you might enjoy this group, please get in touch with Christine via the website, or better still, join Portsdown U3A !

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






Group Meeting Notes – May 2018


Our Group



Feedback – we all enjoyed the talk abouth the East Solent Coastal Partnership (Gen. Meeting earlier in the month) and their cards were passed around for anyone interested to follow progress. We also greatly enjoyed our tour of Salisbury Cathedral, only disappointed that we didn’t have time to tour the town with Andrew, but we hope to do this later in the year, and also Portchester Castle when we know more about the Normans!

Tickets for Chawton House Library – there are 5 free tickets available if anyone wants them but must be used by mid July.

Visits – to Boarhunt church,(postcode PO27 6AS) – in lieu of June meeting (26th) – Colin has organised. Car transport as for Salisbury. Please be at the church by 10.30am – there is a car park nearby on the left. There are no more places on this visit.

To Idsworth – July 24th at 11am Chris H is coordianting – to(has) send her email giving directions to Julie for circulation via Beacon. Chris recommends looking at the church friends’ website – idsworthfriends.org for some background information. This visit is also full. In passing, Chris mentioned that it is possible to do a tour of the Portsdown Hill tunnels for groups of 7+.

The Travel Group are doing a trip to the Tudor House in Southampton on 10th July. Anyone who wants to go (in addition to myself and Linda) should now apply to Judy Jones.

Teas at General meeting. Volunteers for organising the teas needed when it’s our turn. Linda and Pam offered, also Colin, Lesley and Chris. Thanks folks – this will now be the July meeting.

September Buildings meeting (25th) – we agreed we’d better come back to earth for this! We arranged a list of sub-subject areas and volunteer ‘researchers’ and also to cover castles and churches separately. I will email the church warden to book the room for next year.

Saxons – Mary gave us some background about domestic buildings, Julie discussed walls, and Pam and Jayne together provided information on decorations of the period. Thanks to all of them for these.

Christine London

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.

picpicpicpic pic


2018 Visit to Salisbury

As Andrew Negus’ talk at the General Meeting had been so interesting we asked him to conduct a tour for us around Salisbury – which we did on 24th April. We got rather absorbed in the cathedral itself as Andrew pointed out items we’d otherwise have missed, so we didn’t get to tour the town!

In the cathedral is a wonderful large modern font, which we all thought was gorgeous, and Colin took a beautiful photo using its waters for an interesting effect. (Copies from me).

We were all in agreement that we would like to repeat the exercise later in the year, so listen out for an announcement later on as to when this will be.

Unfortunately, Shirley had a fall on the way back to the car park, and has sustained a broken collar bone. I am keeping in touch with her, and I am sure you will all wish her a speedy recovery.



2018 Visit to Idsworth Church

Eight people from the group visited this saxon ‘church in the field’ at Idsworth, on 24th July. Thanks to Chris for organising it.