Royal Armouries - Fort Nelson

www.visitwinchester.co.uk/royal-armouries-fort-nelson

  • Reenactors charge at Fort Nelson
  • Fort Nelson reenactors firing a canon
  • Guns at Fort Nelson
  • Reenactors charge at Fort Nelson
  • Fort Nelson reenactors firing a canon
  • Guns at Fort Nelson

Fort Nelson, Portsdown Hill Road

Portchester, Fareham

PO17 6AN

This imposing Victorian fort is home to the Royal Armouries national collection of artillery – The Big Guns.

Although a cliché, the phrase "must see" truly applies to Fort Nelson's astonishing collection of different artillery and guns from different time periods. Over 700 items of artillery from many countries and spanning 600 years are brought to life whilst sensitively telling the unique stories behind them.

Built between 1860 and 1870, Fort Nelson, along with Fort Wallington, Fort Southwick, Fort Widley, and Fort Purbrook were one of the biggest defense projects ever undertaken in Britain. Fort Nelson and the other Portsdown forts were dedicated to provide the fire power to deter an enemy attack on Portsmouth from inland, although it never saw action against the French.

The Royal Armouries Museum was opened in 1984 for the first time, and today is one of the largest artillery museums in the UK.


 Admission and parking are free – offering a great day out for all the family during the school holidays, and all year round.

Highlights include:

  • A breath taking glass-sided gallery – The Voice of the Guns – showcasing some of the Royal Armouries’ most famous exhibits. One of the most celebrated pieces of artillery is a 15th century Turkish Bombard which was gifted to Britain by the Turkish Government.
  • Exciting galleries, telling the history of the fort and the people and stories that shaped history.
  • State-of-the-art education centre – allowing children to see the past spring to life in a historic setting, but harnessing the latest technology.
  • Visitor centre – including Café 1871, which is open to passers-by and walkers.

Fort Nelson is also licensed for weddings and has a large range of function rooms for private or corporate hire.

Visit Fort Nelson and experience the exhilarating bang of gun firing on selected days throughout the year accompanied by drilling from Portsdown Artillery Volunteers and Ubique Right of the Line.  Discover more about the amazing collection and the museum.  Uncover the story of Fort Nelson, its intriguing shape and history.

  • Ramps provide access to much of the site
  • Lift
  • Main tunnel and galleries are wheelchair accessible
  • Visitor Centre is wheelchair accessible
  • Large format available on request
  • Accessible toliets
  • Guide dogs are allowed

Summer (Apr-Oct)
10am – 5pm
Last admission 4pm

Winter (Nov-Mar)
10.30am – 4pm
Last admission 3pm

Closed 24, 25 and 26 December

Free admission.

Guided Tours: Adults: £3, Under 16: free

Road

Exit M27 motorway from Junction 11. Follow brown tourist signs for ‘Royal Armouries’.

Public transport

Nearest train stations:
Portchester - 3 minutes away by taxi
Fareham - 10 minutes away by taxi
Havant - 20 minutes away by taxi

Fort Nelson is one of the few places where you can experience live black-powder firings of historic artillery pieces.

Daily gun firing: One of the big guns is fired in salute every day at 1pm.

On selected Sundays throughout the year there are special firings, featuring authentic gun drills by uniformed detachments from Portsdown Artillery Volunteers.  These events are free and everyone is welcome. 

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