Portsmouth is a busy port in HampsPortsmouthPoint.jpghire, looking onto the English Channel. It is situated on Portsea Island about fifteen miles south east of Southampton. The Royal Navy has its base there, and so it is to Portsmouth that Gilbert Norrell and Jonathan Strange go to review the Fleet when a grateful government awards them that honour in return for their many services to the nation.

The dockyard of Portsmouth has its origins in the Middle Ages and it still provides the main source of employment, insomuch that there is scarcely an inhabitant of the town who is not some way concerned in its affairs. This is why Mr. Strange's doings in effecting the rescue of seamen from the stricken vessel False Prelate excite such universal interest, and criticism[28].