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Round Tower, Portsmouth

Visited September 2022

Location Portsmouth, Hampshire
Entrance Fee No 
Railway Station Nearby Portsmouth Harbour
Parking Car Parks
Facilities Cafe


Situated in Old Portsmouth and perched on the entrance to the harbour, the Round Tower is one of Portsmouth's oldest fortifications.






The tower was first built as a wooden structure way back in 1418 at the orders of Henry V, as Portsmouth was suffering raids from French ships. There was originally a chain which was connected to a similar structure on the other side of the harbour at Gosport, and this could be raised to stop ships entering Portsmouth Harbour. This chain arrangement was also utilised at Dartmouth Castle in Devon for the same reason.





By the end of the century the wooden tower had been rebuilt in stone and connected to the nearby Square Tower by ramparts. It was at this time only one storey high, the upper storey was added during the Napoleonic wars.


By 1850 the roof had been converted into a gun battery. The Round Tower was decommissioned in the in the C20th and bought by Portsmouth Council. The top storey and ramparts are open all year round and are free to visit. There is a cafe and some artist studios occupying the arches at ground level. 





As Portsmouth is a coastal city there are of course many other things to do, including beach related activities on Southsea Beach, two piers and a funfair, a boating lake, and model village. Plus the historic dockyards which are home to the famous ships the HMS Victory and the Mary Rose.


Close to the Round Tower is the Spinnaker Tower which is an experience if you like heights! It is a modern tower, constructed in the 2000s at a cost of £35 million, its modernity is in complete contrast to the historical Round Tower. The trip to the top of the tower in a lift ( which makes a change from all those steps in medieval castle towers) rewards you with extensive views over Portsmouth and the Solent, and offers the opportunity to walk across the glass floor- a slightly unnerving experience given it is 170 metres high and the glass floor means you can see right down to the bottom. However there were many children giving it a go the day we were there and they were on the whole braver than the adults.


About a 10/15 minutes walk  along the seafront in the opposite direction brings you to Southsea Castle , and slightly further away but still doable in the same day are Portchester Castle and Fort Nelson





More info:  The Round Tower

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