Famous people from Portsmouth C-D

Welcome to the Portsmouth Hall of Fame, your gateway to the illustrious heritage of this remarkable city. Our curated collection showcases the fascinating lives and achievements of famous individuals associated with Portsmouth. Among them are those who were born within the city's embrace, as well as those who chose to call Portsmouth home, leaving an indelible mark through their work and contributions.

Portsmouth's legacy is adorned with an abundance of exceptional talent, spanning generations. From literary luminaries and influential politicians to revered sports personalities and gifted musicians, our Hall of Fame pays homage to these diverse and accomplished figures, both past and present.

We believe in the power of community and your valuable local insights. If you know of someone deserving of a place in our esteemed Hall of Fame but is yet to be recognized, we invite you to be a part of this celebration. Your recommendations matter. Simply drop us an email at info@welcometoportsmouth.co.uk, sharing the details of the remarkable individual you believe should be featured. Together, let's enrich the tapestry of Portsmouth's history and honor its outstanding personalities.

James Callaghan (Prime Minister)

Picture of Prime Minister James Callaghan from Portsmouth

Leonard James (Jim) Callaghan (1912 - 2005) was born at Funtington Road in Copnor and was brought up in poor circumstances, the son of a naval chief petty officer of Irish descent. He attended Northern Grammar School, he left school at 16, although he passed the Senior Oxford Certificate exam he could not afford to attend University opting to become a clerk for the Inland Revenue at Maidstone in Kent. Whilst working for the Inland Revenue he joined the Maidstone branch of the Labour Party. In 1932 he became the Kent branch secretary of the Association of the Officers of Taxes (AOT), in 1933 he he was elected to the AOT's national executive council.
In 1940 at the start of World War 2, Callaghan tried to join the Royal Navy but was turned down due to being in a reserved occupation, he later joined the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve in 1942. He spent some time working for the Admiralty in Whitehall and later served in the Royal Navy East Indies Fleet.
Callaghan was elected MP for Cardiff South in 1945 he rose through the ranks being appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport in 1947, in November 1961, Callaghan became Shadow Chancellor. When Harold Wilson resigned as Labour leader and Prime Minister in 1976, Jim Callaghan took over, beating Michael Foot in a ballot of MPs. After losing the 1979 general election to Margaret Thatcher's Conservatives, he remained as Labour leader for another year, before handing over to Michael Foot.
Callaghan died on 26 March 2005 at Ringmer, East Sussex.

David Calder

Actor David Calder born in Portsmouth

Born in Portsmouth on the 1st August 1946 actor David Calder trained at The Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. he has played many parts on TV and in films.
His TV roles include appearances in The Boys from the Blackstuff, The Professionals, Enemy at the Door, Minder, Bergerac, The New Statesman, Between the Lines, Cracker, Dalziel and Pascoe, Heartbeat, Sleepers, Spooks, Midsomer Murders, Hustle, Waking the Dead, A Touch of Frost and Cold Blood.
Film roles include the 1999 James Bond film The World Is Not Enough as well as Moonlighting (1982), Defence of the Realm (1986), American Friends (1991), Hollow Reed (1996), FairyTale: A True Story (1997), The King Is Alive (2000), Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006), The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008) and Rush (2013).

Houston Stewart Chamberlain

Houston Stewart Chamberlain

Houston Stewart Chamberlain was born on the 9th September 1855 in Southsea. His father Rear Admiral William Charles Chamberlain, RN and his mother Eliza Jane both died before he was a year old and he was brought up by his grandmother in France.
At the age of eleven he was sent to boarding school at Cheltenham College an experience he did not enjoy, felling lonely and out of place. Chamberlain lived much of his life in Europe, in Geneva he studied botany, geology and astronomy. He settled in Dresden, Germany and loved the music of Richard Wagner. In 1889 he moved to Austria where his views no race and Teutonic supremacy started to develop.
In 1899 he published The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century describing two master races - Jews and Germans - the Jews however are described as a negative race standing between the Germans and their destiny of mastering the world. It is thought that this work was used by Adolf Hitler as the basis of the Third Reich anti-semitic philosophy. In 1908 he married Eva Wagner, the composer's daughter. Chamberlain died in 1927.

George Vicat Cole

George Vicat Cole, landscape painter, born in Portsmouth

Born 17th April 1833 in Portsmouth, George Vicat Cole was an important landscape painter, he painted English landscape scenes in a naturalistic style popular in the mid nineteenth century.
He was taught by his father George Cole, also a landscape painter, he incorporated his mothers maiden name Vicat into his surname to distinguish himself from his fathers name and avoid confusion. Between 1852 and 1856 he was selling paintings for sums of up to forty shillings each.
In 1854 George Vicat Cole had his first painting displayed at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, his work gradually became more popular and in 1870 he became an Associate of the Royal Academy and in 1880 he became a Member of the Royal Academy. His oil painting "The Pool of London" was purchased for the nation and is now part of the Tate collection.

Marilyn Cole

Photo of Playboy Playmate Marilyn Cole

Born May 7th 1949 in Portsmouth, Marilyn Cole was Playboy magazine's January 1972 Playmate of the Month, as well as 1973 Playmate of the Year, the only Briton to hold that title.
After leaving school Marilyn had several jobs in the Portsmouth area working at the Portsmouth Central Telephone Exchange and the Portsmouth Co-op Fuel Office.
She worked as a Bunny from 1971 - 1974 at the London Playboy Club and was chosen by Victor Lownes to be photographed for the Playboy Magazine. For some time she was involved with Roxy Music singer Bryan Ferry and appears on the cover of Roxy Music's album, Stranded.
In 1984, she married Playboy executive Victor Lownes and associate of Hugh Hefner owner of the Playboy business.

Sir Barry Cunliffe

Archeologist Sir Barry Cunliffe, born in Portsmouth.

Sir Barrington Windsor Cunliffe, CBE, was born December 10th 1939 in Portsmouth. Known as Barry Cunliffe, he was Professor of European Archaeology at the University of Oxford from 1972 to 2007.

Barry attended Portsmouth Northern Grammar School and went on to read archaeology and anthropology at the University of Cambridge. He made his name in the excavations at Fishbourne Roman Palace, but became an authority on the Iron Age through work on the Danebury hill fort.

Sir Barry Cunliffe has served on a variety of public bodies in the Archaeology sector, the Ancient Monuments Board, Museum of London, British Museum, Mary Rose Trust and the Council for British Archaeology. He has published numerous books on archaeology and also presented the Radio 4 programme, 'Age to Age'. He was knighted in 2006.

Charles Dickens

Picture of Charles Dickens, born in Portsmouth

Charles Dickens, the son of John and Elizabeth Dickens, was born in Landport, at 387, now 393 Old Commercial Road Portsmouth, on 7th February 1812. John Dickens worked as a clerk at the Navy pay office in Portsmouth.
In 1833 Dickens had his first story published in the Monthly Magazine. Using the pen-name of 'Boz', Dickens also began contributing short stories to the Morning Chronicle and the Evening Chronicle. These stories were so popular that they were collected together and published as a book entitled Sketches by Boz (1836).
The publisher, William Hall, now commissioned Dickens to write The Pickwick Papers in twenty monthly installments. This was followed by Oliver Twist, published in Bentley's Miscellany (1837-38) and Nicholas Nickleby (1838-39), also published monthly. Read more here about Charles Dickens and the birthplace museum in Portsmouth.

Sarah Doudney

Sarah Doudney was born 15th January 1841 in Portsea, where her family ran candle and soap business.
Sarah was a poet and novelist and is probably best known as a childrens writer. Her works include, Psalms for Life, 1871, a collection of 60 hymns, Under Grey Walls 1871, Where Swallows Build, Girl's Own Paper 1898, Thy Heart's Desire 1888, Katherine's Keys 1896 and The Vanished Hand 1896. She died on the 8th December 1926 in Oxford.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Aurthur Conan Doyle

Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes was born in Edinburgh May 22, 1859.
Conan Doyle studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, one of his teachers Dr. Joseph Bell was said to possess extreme instincts of observation, logic, deduction, and diagnosis, all characteristics later to be found in the character Sherlock Holmes.
In 1882 he came to Portsmouth and set up his first practice at 1 Bush Villas, 41 Elm Grove, he was a member of Portsmouth (North End) Cricket Club and Southsea Bowling Club and in 1884 he was a founder member of Portsmouth Football Club and played for the club as goalkeeper.
In 1887 'A Study in Scarlet' the first Sherlock Holmes story was published in Beeton's Christmas Annual, Beeton's was a paperback magazine printed in England yearly between 1860 and 1898, founded by Samuel Orchart Beeton. The second Sherlock Holmes story 'The Sign of Four' was published in 1890. Amongst his numerous works Doyle wrote about his time in Portsmouth in his semi autobiographical work 'The Captain of the Polestar and Other Stories' in 1895.
His large body of work includes poetry, plays, historical fiction, commentary on social and legal reform, war and military chronicles, enthusiastic articles on various sports, and finally writings promoting the cause of Spiritualism.

Helen Duncan

Helen Duncan

Helen Duncan was a Scottish spiritualist, she is best know as the last person to be tried for Witchcraft in England as the act was repealed in 1951.
Duncan held a seance in Portsmouth in November 1941 and predicted the sinking of HMS Barham. The sinking of HMS Barham had not been announced to the public and the Royal Navy carried out an investigation into the leak. On the 19th Jan 1944 during seance at a Copnor Road, Chemist Shop, she was arrested by undercover policemen in attendance and was charged with conspiracy to contravene the Witchcraft Act of 1735. Co conspirators Ernest and Elizabeth Homer, who operated the Psychic centre in Portsmouth, and Frances Brown her agent, were also charged.
Helen Duncan was imprisoned for nine months, Frances Brown for four months and the Homers were bound over.

Nicola Duffet

Nicola Duffet

Born 22nd January 1963 in Portsmouth, actress Nicola Duffet remains best known for two long-running soap opera roles.
After appearing as Debbie Bates in EastEnders from 1993 to 1995 she went into the role of boozy floozie Cat Matthews in Family Affairs. Cat first appeared in Family Affairs in late 1998 and has been a key character in the show's story lines ever since.
Prior to her success in soap opera Duffet played a key role, that of Mrs Bast, in Ismail Merchant and James Ivory's 1992 film adaption of Howards End.
Nicola recently appeared in ITV's drama Deep Water which was adapted from the Windermere series of novels by Paula Daly, she played aunt Jackie.

Read more about famous people with a Portsmouth connection here, Spike Edney to Brian Howe.