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Portchester Castle

Visited August 2012

Location Portchester, Hampshire
Entrance Fee Yes
Railway Station Nearby Yes- Portchester
Parking Yes
Facilities Toilets, Shop, Cafe
Map

 

Portchester Castle was built inside the walls of a roman fort, and even today the walls are the most complete Roman examples in Northern Europe, standing mostly to their full height. The Saxons also settled within the walls and finally after the Norman conquest a castle was constructed.

 


 

 


Review

 

Situated in a natural harbour, it is no surprise that the castle was used for defensive purposes for such a long period of time. It was still in use until the 17th century, and then became a prisoner of war camp, only falling into disuse in the 1820's. Even today, it is a popular castle, and was very busy on the day we visited. The outer bailey is pleasantly grassed over, and can be accessed for free. On the day we were there it was being well utilised by families, some of whom had set up camp on the sides of the moat and the children were paddling in the water and looking for crabs (the moat is culverted from the sea)

 


 

 


 

There is a fee to gain entrance to the inner bailey and the castle ruins. Once inside the large square tower of the keep dominates the surroundings. It has three floors, including the roof level. The stairs leading to the first two floors are perfectly accessible for children, the stairs up to the roof are slightly more difficult but the view is certainly worth it.

 

 


 

 


 

The great keep aside, the principle buildings of the castle belong to Richard II's palace, which was built between 1396-99. The palace contained a service wing with kitchen, buttery & pantry, and the great hall. The west wing contained the royal apartments, including the kings bedchamber. It is not known if Richard actually got to see his palace at Portchester, as he died in 1399 as the work was finishing.

 

Back outside in the outer bailey the parish church of St Mary is interesting to visit and was serving cream teas on the day we visited. Close to the church is the watergate, part of which is thought to be Saxon in origin. There is a path which goes all around the outer walls of the castle, this is the best view of the Roman walls, and indeed the sea with views towards Portsmouth.

 

The castle has toilets and a gift shop (which was very busy during our visit) with teas being served in the church. There is free parking nearby.

 


 

 


 

More info: English Heritage Portchester Castle

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