Experience the best of the best with this Top 8 list of things to do and see in Portsmouth.
Walk through history and see Olde Towne’s origins and it’s continued evolution.
Plan for your visit and explore Portsmouth with the Visitor Directory.
A Post Such As Portsmouth is a highly anticipated re-enactment designed to entertain and educate the public of the occupation of Portsmouth by the British forces in 1781. It is open and free to everyone; and it features a variety of civilian and military impressions, as well as members of the Royal Navy. This event takes place May 20th, 2023 at the corner of High and Court Streets (the old courthouse) and High and Middle St in Olde Towne Portsmouth, Virginia.
Dress up in Colonial / Revolutionary War costumes and join the reenactors portraying soldiers or citizens and help us transform the downtown area of “Historic Olde Towne” Portsmouth into “18th Century Town”. Here’s your chance to dress up as a 18th century civilian, Tradespeople, Musician, British Soldier, Queens Ranger, Jager, American Legion, or Loyalists!
Map of the Fortifications of Portsmouth
On New Year’s Day, 1776, a full six months before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, war was at hand on the Elizabeth River. The British had suffered a terrible defeat at Great Bridge just a month earlier, (thanks in no small part to the role played by Portsmouth’s own Billy Flora) when the North Carolina and Virginia regiments joined forces to keep the British out of northeastern North Carolina and the Albemarle Sound. Instead of celebrating the New Year, the citizens of one of the colony’s largest cities found themselves confronted with round-the-clock cannon fire from British ships positioned in the Elizabeth River. Soon, the Rebel/Patriot leaders would realized they would not be able to hold onto the City of Norfolk for much longer. so, under the leadership of Colonel’s Howe and Woodford, the decision was made to finish the destruction of Norfolk to prevent the British from acquiring its strategic advantages. This decision proved to be one of the most far-reaching strategic military decisions of the war for Independence.
Benedict Arnold-Photo credit-Library of Congress
Fast forward to 1781. Portsmouth had suffered only minor damage in the shelling of Norfolk back in 1776. The infrastructure was in good standing and the population, consisting of both those loyal to the British and loyal to the cause for independence, was strong. Preceding the arrival of General Cornwallis into Portsmouth, Virginia, the infamous traitor, now British General, Benedict Arnold, leads a British force into Hampton Roads. Occupying Portsmouth as their base, along with Colonel Simcoe’s Queen’s Rangers and Captain Ewald’s Jaegers, the British conducted raids in Hampton Roads, and skirmished with Virginia’s forces including Major Weeks at Kempe’s Landing and Great Bridge. General Lafayette led a failed assault on the British post in March 1781, signifying the city’s importance to the beginning and ending of the Revolution in Virginia. As spring approaches, the British await Lord Cornwallis as he and his army campaigns through North Carolina.
This is where our event begins. Join us for:
May 20th, 2023- Saturday, 9:00 am-4:00 pm
►9 am – 4 pm: On-Going:
►9 am – 2 pm: On-Going: Trinity Church.
►09:00 am: PACC/Courtyard.
-Arnold gives orders to Army. (Post guard).
-Arnold gives Loyalty Oath to Civilians. (Civilians assume Roles/move to locations).
►10:00 am: PACC/Courtyard.
►11:00 am: Welcome Center.
►01:30 pm: PACC/Courtyard.
►01:45 pm: PACC/Courtyard/Sidewalk.
►3:00 pm: PACC/Courtyard/Sidewalk.
►3:00 pm: PACC/Courtyard.
►04:00 pm: PACC/Courtyard.
Olde Towne History Walk
History Alive’s Mary Veale and the Colonials will be at Trinity Church from 9-2, with interior tours of the church beginning on the hour and mini-tours of Olde Towne leaving on the half hour.
On “Dressing Up”: You are encouraged to dress up as 18th Century American Revolution characters and interact. There are many Options for obtaining 18th Century Colonial (American Revolution) Costumes. You can order items On-Line from Reenactor sites such as: https://www.townsends.us/, go with a less expensive items by simply buying various levels of Costumes on-line (Esty, amazon, etc.), or you can even make your Own!!!
Farmer’s Market: Enjoy fresh, locally grown produce, handcrafted items, or even specially items. Perfect place to find locally sourced good and know you’re helping the local economy.
From its antique and specialty stores to its tree-lined streets, Olde Towne Portsmouth is much more than one of the region’s most pleasant places to take a stroll. A history lover’s dream come true. In a single square mile, the Olde Towne Historic District contains one of America’s largest collections of architecturally noteworthy 18th and 19th century homes and churches, along with a delightful selection of restaurants and specialty shops. In addition to its historic past, the Olde Towne today is home to major attractions that promise fun for the whole family.