The gate was originally sited across what is now Broad Street, about 100yds north-west of the Square Tower. The main part of the gate is now on Burnaby Road, about half a mile north-east of its original position.

King James Gate - 2004
King James Gate, on Burnaby Road, in 2004
King James Gate - c1850
King James Gate
The Original Location (2004)

The Interim Location


King James Gate, which was built in 1687, stood on a spot that would have been fortified from as early as the 15th Century. At the time it was constructed it would have stood over a moat which separated the town of Portsmouth from Point - an area with a notorious reputation - and which would have been reached using a drawbridge. Much of the construction was supervised by the Dutch engineer Sir Bernard de Gomme.
The gate spanned the spit of land between the Camber and the earlier Elizabethan defensive wall on the seawards side. It would have been flanked by gun batteries.
In the late 1870s the gate was demolished along with much of the remaining fortifications of the town. The bulk of the masonry was later re-erected alongside St Michael's Road on a site now occupied by the Portsmouth University Nuffield Building. At an unknown date it was again dismantled and erected on Burnaby Road where it forms part of the boundary of the United Services Recreation Ground. The pediment and most of the decorative stonework has been lost, but one of two original King James Monographs was erected as part of a building project on the camber, where it can still be seen. By comparing the original photograph with the current structure it can be seen that the gate was re-modelled at some time with side entrances of equal size being created.
The original site of the gate can be determined accurately from the arrangement of the masonry where public steps rise from Broad Street to the Promenade above. It is noted that in the original photograph on the left, a building known as Victoria House is visible through the main arch. Victoria House, which is on the corner of Battery Row is still discernable in the modern day photograph.

King James Gate

The illustration of the gate (right) was probably published in the Hampshire Telegraph in the early part of the 19th Century. It shows the gate from the outside of the town and was used by William Gates in his 'Portsmouth in the Past' published in 1925.
A digital re-creation of the gate in 1860 can be seen on the History In Portsmouth website.