The backbone of the stairwell being a ship's top-spar...
The Hotel is scheduled as a building of Special Architectural or Historical Interest under the Town and Country Planning Act. The building is 'frame built' using oaken timbers of its period, as well as more 'modern' timbers from the old wooden-wall ships of the early 19th century. The walls have a fair share of these timbers, as well as a sloping floor into the bargain, along with a door that is not quite rectangular. In it's early life a conversion took place, perhaps the main alteration being the introduction of a handsome cantilever staircase, the hub around which the present inn lives. This staircase is a truly Georgian masterpiece - with the backbone of the stairwell being a ship's top-spar, a mast some 40 feet in length, parts of which can still be seen in various floors of the inn. This mast is said to come from a 1798 HMN frigate knows as "Penelope", discovered by builders during renovations in 1947.
"An inn full of many stories throughout history, the possible birthplace of James Bond and the sight of the legendary mystery of Buster Crabb. It was brilliant to be part of the restoration of this great building in the very heart of Old Portsmouth."
Right in the midst of Old Portsmouth's High street, with the Round Tower, Hot Walls and the Camber Quay all close by sits the Sally Port Inn, created in 1947 from a war damaged residence, dating back to the 1600's....
The Sally Port Hotel as we know it today came into being in the early 1950s when two separate properties – No. 57 and No. 58 High Street - were combined.
The premises probably began life as a pair of 17th century timber-framed dwellings which, according to some (unreferenced) sources were built in 1615. The stucco frontage, another storey, full height canted bays, dormer windows in the roof and a pediment over the architrave surround to the doorway were probably added in the late Georgian period.
At that time each of the properties were owned for many years by two businessmen – George Chambers and Robert Tyler – whose lifestyles, interests and family commitments may have given them common ground.
It may have been them who also decided to create the shared entrance and elegant cantilever staircase with its walnut balustrade, domed skylight and access to each property. Despite these shared features though, until 1950 Nos. 57 & 58 were distinctly separate properties which, like many other on the High Street, tended to have business premises on the ground floor and living accommodation above. Over the years this led to some interesting history.