Start from the White Hart PH. There is a small public car park off White Hart Road.Cross over the B333 to Cleveland Road, where you will find an interpretation board and the start of the old railway. Take a read of the information here for details of the railway line.
Continue along the cycle/walking path, which was the old railway line, until you can see Workhouse Lake to your left.
Continue along the cycle/walking path to Jackie Spencer Bridge over Stoke Lake, known locally as ‘the creek’
At the end of the cycle track there is a cottage directly opposite. This is called Admiralty Cottage.
At this point we leave the line of the old railway and turn right onto Crescent Road. Continue until you reach the entrance to Crescent Gardens and enter at the first gate. Narrow entrances. The gardens are a delight for the senses and you are encouraged to take your time wandering through and look at the interpretation board.
As you emerge at the far end of the gardens, turn left and at the end of Crescent Road, take a left onto Anglesey Road and walk to the end of the road (by the mini roundabout). Views across to the Isle of Wight.
At this point, return up Anglesey Road, walking past Crescent Road. A little further along Anglesey Road you will see an old telephone box.
Continue north until you reach number 35 Anglesey Road on the right, which is the
Old Rectory. Look for the mounting stone alongside the wall – there are not many left.
On the opposite side of Anglesey Road you will see St Mary’s Church, Alverstoke.
Continuing up Anglesey Road on the left you come across Green Lane (signed for Alverstoke Tennis Club). Walk along Green Lane.
At the end of Green Lane, turn right and across the main road you will see a bench and sculpture dedicated to Nat Gonella.
Return to the southern side of Bury Road and bear right along Foster Road, where you can enter Foster Gardens.
Continue out of Foster Gardens and turn left along the top of Anglesey Road with the bowling green on the right. Rejoin Foster Road and continue along until you turn right on to South Street and back to the White Hart PH on the left.
Nearest Train (or tube) Station(s):
Points of Interest …
The Queen Victoria railway was used by the Queen so that she could easily travel between her residences on the mainland and Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. The Stokes Bay branch line was to serve the Queen on a few occasions, although her private station was at Clarence Yard. The Stokes Bay branch line provided a quicker, more direct route to the Island and branched from Gosport Station down to Stokes Bay Pier. It proved especially useful for the Queen during inclement weather, as recorded in her diaries.
Just to the west of where the White Hart PH is now situated used to be another station: Gosport Road. The Stokes Bay line was opened in 1863 and served for over 50 years as the main departure point to reach Ryde on the Isle of Wight. The branch line terminated at Stoke Bay Pier but ceased to be used in 1915, when Portsmouth became the main terminal. The pier went on to be used as an air-dropped torpedo testing site and was used during both World Wars. The pier was demolished in the 1970s.
Workhouse Lake was named after the Alverstoke House of Industry (workhouse), which was situated on the southern side of Alver Creek, opened in 1801. The workhouse later became Alverstoke Public Assistance. Institution and finally closed after the Second World War.
The bridge here was built in 1898 to accommodate a double track railway line, to replace the viaduct. Jackie (John) Spencer was the gateman who looked after the gates at Little Anglesey Lane just before the bridge. Jackie Spencer is shown on the census as still working as the gateman in 1901 aged 63 years and so affectionately it became known as the Jackie Spencer Bridge. Jackie Spencer had a wife and two daughters, and they all resided in Railway Cottage (a.k.a 7 Little Anglesey Road).
Admiralty Cottage in Crescent Road has been a private residence for 100 years. When the Stokes Bay line closed at the end of October 1915, the house was the gatekeeper’s residence.
Thomas Ellis Owen designed and constructed The Crescent and gardens between 1827 to 1831, based on Robert Cruickshank’s vision for The Crescent to rival The Royal Crescent in Bath and Regents Park Terraces in London. His vision for the gardens was a spa and bathing resort, with views of the Isle of Wight. A young Princess Victoria is also believed to have stayed in Anglesey Hotel overlooking the gardens in 1830, when she came to Gosport with her mother.
The gardens were fashionable in the Regency period, and Crescent. Gardens and the houses in Crescent Road are a wonderful reminder of this today. By the late 1940’s the gardens had fallen into a period of neglect, but in the late 1980’s a period of restoration began and in 1991 the Friends of Crescent Gardens was formed who still help to maintain the gardens today. The gardens have achieved Green Flag status and are very much admired.
At this point looking south-east, you can imagine the railway line continuing down to what would have been Stokes Bay Pier. From this viewpoint you can see over to the Isle of Wight. On a clear day you may even be able to make out Osborne House to the west, which was one of Queen Victoria’s residences that she visited frequently. Queen Victoria spent a significant amount of time in Gosport, sometimes just passing through, although there are recorded visits to Haslar Hospital, Royal Clarence Yard and the Alverbank (House, now Hotel), where her son Prince Alfred resided.
This telephone box of old is now maintained by a local group called The Gosport Shed, which provides workshop facilities and a friendly meeting place for older men. It has been known to feature a Christmas tree, historical photos and details of local people’s lives during WW1.
The Old Rectory is represented by the Parish church of St Mary’s. It has a medieval basement, which was used to store food and wine by Donna Maria Francesca, aspiring Queen of Spain. Donna Maria and Carlos V fled Portugal after Carlos claimed to be the rightful King of Spain. Arriving in Alverstoke in 1833, Carlos quickly returned to Iberia engaging in the Carlist Civil War, whilst Donna Maria remained in exile in Alverstoke until she died in 1834 of respiratory disease. Her body was interred at St Mary’s Roman Catholic chapel in Gosport for 50 years, until her remains were taken to Trieste to be with her husband’s. The Old Rectory Undercroft is now a Grade II listed building.
St Mary’s Church and what is still known locally as Alverstoke Village, was once a large agricultural parish. The name Alverstoke is taken from a Lady of the Manor: Alvara and Stoke from an area known as the Marsh Ground. St Mary’s Church is not mentioned in the Domesday Book and the first reference to it is in 1122. St Mary’s was bombed in WW2 but did not suffer drastic damage.
This peaceful and beautiful lane takes the walker from St Mary’s Church up to Bury Road, passing Alverstoke Tennis Club and the fields of Alverstoke Junior School. A photo exists of this lane as a well-used route in c1900.
Nat (Nathaniel Charles) Gonella was a famous jazz musician, firstly with the Billy Cotton band, then with Lew Stone and his orchestra, before he went on to set up The Georgians. If you wish to cross over to the sculpture, there is also an interpretation board to read more about his life. Sit on the bench where Nat used to play to the locals – he retired to Raglan Court, situated just behind the bench. Nat Gonella Square is also in the town centre, dedicated to him in 1994. Gosport Jazz scene still celebrates his birthday on the 7 March.
The site now known as Foster Gardens was once marshland and known as Kings Bottom. The land was once owned by the Foster-Carters, who also owned much of the land on the north side of Privett Road. It is believed the Nicholson family defined the site of the garden as it is now, but it is now maintained by the Borough Council. The garden has paths, a pond and pergolas and is often used for prom and wedding photos.