Visit Winchester > Listing > Things to do > Royal Armouries – Fort Nelson

Royal Armouries – Fort Nelson

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Address: Fort Nelson, Portsdown Hill Road, Portchester, Fareham, PO17 6AN
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Visit the Royal Armouries Museum Fort Nelson, and learn about the astonishing collection of artillery.

It’s a great day out with something for all the family to enjoy and discover. You will learn about the intriguing history of artillery and how it has changed the nature of battles and affected the lives of many people between the 15th and 20th century.

Built between 1860 and 1870, Fort Nelson, Fort Wallington, Fort Southwick, Fort Widley and Fort Purbrook were among 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 they never saw action against the French.

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.

Displayed in the Voice of the Guns, one of the most celebrated pieces of artillery is a 15th century Turkish Bombard which was gifted to Britain by the Turkish Government.

Another object of great interest is the huge 18 inch, 200 tonne Railway Howitzer. Weighing the same as 17 double-decker buses, it was designed and built by the Elswick Ordnance Company of Newcastle in 1918 as part of a trend to build bigger calibre guns with more destructive shells. It is the world’s largest surviving military gun.

Fort Nelson is a historic monument, rescued from dereliction and carefully restored. It commands spectacular views over Portsmouth Harbour to the south and the picturesque Meon Valley to the north.

The Royal Armouries museum was opened in 1984 for the first time, and today is one of the largest artillery museums in the UK. Set within 19 acres, there is so much to see and explore, including the ramparts, parade, tunnels, galleries and cafe.

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  • 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
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5 January to 18 February 2022:

Mondays and Tuesdays: Closed

Wednesdays to Sundays: 10am to 4pm

Please visit their website to check opening hours and to pre-book tickets.  Pre-booking is recommended as there are only a limited number of walk-in tickets available.

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Admission is free

Parking £3

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

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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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

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