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Welcome to Southsea Castle


Admission to Southsea Castle is FREE for all visitors!

Photograph of Southsea Castle from outside, including the outer wall, keep and lighthouse

Southsea Castle is open as a historical attraction free of charge between March and October each year. This year it re-opens on 27 March. Visitors can explore the keep, enjoy amazing views across the Solent from the castle ramparts, enjoy a bite to eat in the Courtyard Café (open all year) and purchase a gift from the Waterfront Gift shop or some beer to take home from the on-site micro brewery. The Castle's event programme includes family activities and trails, plus for adults the popular Friday night Champagne Bar from May to September. 

About the Castle

Built in 1544, the Castle was part of a series of fortifications constructed by Henry VIII around England's coasts to protect the country from invaders. Barely was the work completed when Henry VIII's flagship, the Mary Rose, tragically sank in front of the Castle. During the English Civil War, nearly a century later, the Castle was captured for the only time in its history, by Parliamentarian forces.

Over the centuries, Southsea Castle's defences were strengthened so that it could continue to protect Portsmouth. In the 19th Century a tunnel was built to defend the Castle moat. Visitors can still enter the tunnel and see how the Castle would have been defended against invaders.

The Castle has had many other uses besides defence. For a while it was a military prison. A lighthouse was built in the 1820s, and is still in use by shipping today. In 1960 the Castle left military service. It was acquired by Portsmouth City Council, which restored the Castle to its 19th Century appearance.

Portsmouth museums receive national recognition

Six Portsmouth museums have been awarded national accreditation status by Arts Council England. Charles Dickens' Birthplace, Cumberland House, D-Day Museum, Eastney Beam Engine House, Portsmouth Museum and Southsea Castle have all achieved the coveted status. The accreditation scheme sets nationally agreed standards for all museums in the UK. It allows participating museums to demonstrate their commitment to managing collections effectively for the enjoyment and benefit of audiences. Applicants are assessed against a set criteria which covers a range of museum activities. The six Portsmouth City Council-operated sites have had to demonstrate they meet requirements relating to governance and management, services and facilities and care and management of collections. Visitors to the museums will benefit from the work done as it includes the creation of a customer charter which features 10 points to ensure all guests have the best possible experience.

Annette French, museums accreditation manager, Arts Council England, said: “Being awarded accreditation is an impressive achievement. It recognises the high standard and service that Portsmouth museums provide and acknowledges the hard work of the volunteers and staff.”


Richard Wicken's watch from 1857

Click here to find out more about the pocket watch presented to Sergeant Major Richard Wicken in 1857, when he retired as Master Gunner of Southsea Castle (now on display at Portsmouth City Museum).



Portsmouth City CouncilAll pictures are copyright of Portsmouth Museums

Southsea Castle
Visit the City Museums site
Visit the Natural History Museum Site
Visit the D-day museum site
Visit the Records Office site
Visit the Charles Dickens site
Visit the Portsmouth Museum Portal site


Aerial photo of Southsea Castle

Exploring the castle walls

Exploring the tunnels around the moat