Information for Schools

There is a lot to see and do on your visit to Southsea Castle. Please see further down the page for information on the exhibitions.

Wonder Boxes - the new-look loans collection from Portsmouth Museums

The first phase of our review of the Museum Loans Collection is complete and the first batch loan items, rebranded as Wonder Boxes, are available for use.

Our fabulous loans boxes are the perfect stimulus for creative work across the curriculum, including science, art & design, literacy and history.  Bring a little awe and wonder into your classroom with bird, mammal, amphibian and reptile specimens or skulls and skeletons.  Or bring the past to life with high quality model dinosaurs and original and replica artefacts illustrating life in Ancient Egypt.

Click here to download the latest edition of the illustrated Wonder Box Catalogue.

The catalogue lists all of the loans boxes currently available and explains how to book a box and the Terms and Conditions under which the loans scheme operates.  New boxes will be added to the catalogue as the review process continues.

Length of Stay and Group Sizes

The typical visit time by a group is 1 – 11/2 hours.  The maximum group size for a visit is 60 pupils. Lunch facilities are not available on site. A teacher/pupil ratio of at least 1:12 is essential. Once inside the Castle you will need to split into groups of around 15 to explore the site in comfort. (When school groups are in the museum, the behaviour of the children or students is the responsibility of the teacher in charge).

Booking a group visit

For all enquiries, sessions and group visits please telephone our admin team on 023 9283 4744 / 4737 (Monday - Friday) or click here to email us Please state your name, school contact details, number/age of children, which museum/exhibition you are interested in and your preferred dates/times. 


No admission charge is made for self-led visits. Cheques payable to 'Portsmouth City Council', Credit cards: MasterCard or Visa.

Brief Historical Background

Southsea Castle was built between 1544 and 1545 by Henry VIII as part of a system to defend the south coast against a possible French invasion and was built to defend the approaches to Portsmouth Harbour and the Royal Dockyard. The Castle was then progressively developed over 400 years to adapt to new weapons and new methods of warfare. In the 1860's, massive new gun batteries were constructed of earth on either side of the old Castle to increase its firepower. The Castle was finally withdrawn from active service in 1960.



Most of the Castle as seen today is 19th century but there are several surviving Tudor sections and features. The most exciting 19th century addition is an under-ground tunnel (Counterscarp gallery) around the moat. A range of cannons on display shows the development of artillery during the active period of the Castle's history. The displays in the Keep provide a brief introduction to the military history of Southsea Castle and the history of the defences of Portsmouth. There are sections on the Tudor period (Henry VIII), including a reconstruction of a Tudor gunport scene, eighteenth century and the Victorian period. An audio-visual show (in English) on the Castle's history is available in the western Galleries.

Warning: Southsea Castle is an ancient monument, because of this some areas are paved with cobbles and uneven, and some steps are worn with age. Please take particular care with the supervision of your party as the behaviour of the pupils whilst in the Castle is the responsibility of the teacher. In the interests of safety children must not climb on guns or the walls, and should walk at all times.

National Curriculum Links- a broad and balanced approach


Southsea Castle can support creative work across the curriculum including English, history, geography, Art & Design, Design & Technology, mathematics and music.

We look forward to welcoming you to Southsea Castle soon. Call us on 023 9283 4744 / 4737 to make a booking.