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Southsea Castle

Visited August 2012

Location Southsea, Hampshire
Entrance Fee No
Railway Station Nearby Yes- Portsmouth Harbour
Parking Yes
Facilities Toilets, Gift Shop, Cafe


Southsea Castle was built by Henry VIII as one of the many coastal defences  built to protect England from a sea invasion. It was from the castle battlements that Henry watched as his flagship the 'Mary-Rose' sank to the bottom of the Solent, where it stayed until the  1980's (the remains of the ship can be seen on display at Portsmouth-see our 'other places of interest' page for the link to the Mary Rose museum)








It was built in 1544 in just six months, and was used in a military capacity for the next 400 years. Much of the money it cost to build came from the dissolution of the monasteries. Despite the keep being gutted by fire, and the castle being captured by the Parliamentarians in the Civil War (the Royalist commander was too drunk to put up much of a fight), somehow it was always patched up or rebuilt to an extent that it is in a good state of repair today, with the main buildings  and battlements pretty much intact. Charles II rebuilt parts of the castle after the civil war (his arms are on a stone plaque above the entrance) and the ramparts were added to during the Napoleonic wars.








The main castle building is the keep. This is still very much as it would have been in the Tudor times, with the exception of the spiral staircase to the roof, which was added in 1813. The keep houses an exhibition of of the castle, using life size models to depict some parts of its history. The roof can be accessed, and affords some superb views over the solent- check out the round forts built in the 1860's to defend Portsmouth from a sea attack. You can also get great views of the Spinnaker Tower, a modern Portsmouth landmark.


Within the outer bailey is a lighthouse. This was constructed in the 1820's and is still in use today. Also in the outer bailey are steps up to the ramparts, where a complete circuit can be walked. There are seven gun positions facing out to sea, and more facing inland, built above the original barracks. In one of the old barrack rooms there is a small children's room with toys, it is mainly for toddler aged children but just gives the little ones somewhere to play if it all gets too much for them!


The Castle has all the facilities you would expect- toilets, gift shop and cafe. Best of all it has free entry!!





Just a few minutes stroll up the promenade brings you to the Southsea Model Village. This is built on the site of Lumps Fort, once part of Portsmouth's seaward defences. The fort was built in the early 1800's, but by 1827 parts of it were already falling into the sea. There are still parts of the fort in evidence at the model village and the rose garden next door, including some interesting tunnels. It also makes  a pleasant place to take the children in combination with Southsea Castle. The small aviary of birds at the model village were especially enjoyed by the children.





More info:  Southsea Castle

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