Newest Review: ... the keep inside the grounds is also surrounded by a moat. The castle grounds are free to enter but you need to pay to visit the main part ... more
Portchester Castle defending Portsmouth harbours
Portchester Castle (Portchester)
Member Name: wxcat
Portchester Castle (Portchester)
Advantages: Rare Roman Fort, Intact Keep
Disadvantages: No guides inside the castle.
Portchester Castle is situated between Southampton and Portsmouth in the old part of Portchester. To get to Portchester Castle exit Junction 11 on the M27 and follow the signs, it's also only 1 mile from Portchester rail station on the Portsmouth to Southampton main rail line. It is a fort built in Roman Times with the Keep added after the Norman Conquest. There is also a church and graveyard inside the fort. The fort has a partial moat around it, and also is surrounded by the waters of Port Solent on one side.
It is free to enter the fort, and walk around the church and grounds, there are exits on all walls of the fort and you get great views of Port Solent and Portsmouth when you exit by the Watergate. The whole property is managed by English Heritage, but the only part you need to pay is to get into the Keep and Bailey. It is £4.30 for adults, £2.30 for children and £3.70 for concessions. English Heritage members and corporate members and their families get free entry.
Once in you can choose whether to use the guide to walk around the keep as you wish, or you can use the audio tour to guide you around. There is no one once you have passed the entrance and shop, the day we visited (a Monday) we were the only people inside. You start with the bailey which is mostly ruins, the information boards are good and do tell you alot of information about what the site used to be like and used for.
Once you enter the keep, which is still in amazing condition considering it almost 900 years old originally, there are exhibits on the several floors, charting the uses of the castle over the years, the finds that have been recovered in the area of Portchester and the features inside the keep, and featuring the pictures still present on the walls of the inside of the castle from when it was used as a theatre in the 18th century.
There is a wooden staircase built in the restoration up to the three main floors, but the main stairs are the original small spiral staircase that leads up the tower of the building. These I wouldn't recommend for anyone not wearing suitable footwear or anyone who struggles with steep steps. These steps lead all the way onto the roof of the keep. Once up the roof level you can walk around the looking over the Castle and grounds, Portsdown Hill to the north and you get amazing views of Portsmouth and of the Spinnaker Tower. There are also good views of the yachts in Port Solent and of the warships in Portsmouth Harbour.
Summary: Great views over Portsmouth Harbour, nice to get to it to yourselves!
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