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 defence 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 café.

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We welcome visitors with disabilities and hope that you find your day with us enjoyable. We value your visit and your viewpoints on the services we provide.

Fort Nelson is a Scheduled Ancient Monument with different surfaces and levels. There are steps of varying widths and heights, changing surfaces between paving stones, gravel, and grass. Ramps provide access to much of the site.

We encourage carers to carry out a pre-site visit, where appropriate, to ensure everyone makes the most of their visit whether they are in a group or visiting independently. Staff on site can answer your questions and direct you to areas of interest, including local facilities situated in the close vicinity.

Accessibility information:

  • A lift is available between the Voice of the Guns gallery and main gallery level.
  • The main tunnel and galleries are wheelchair accessible.
  • Gallery films have super text captions.
  • The ‘Voice of the Guns’ and ‘Story of Fort Nelson’ and other new galleries contain large print guides, available on request from the Visitor Centre information desk.
  • Visitor Centre counters are wheelchair accessible.
  • Many of the large cannon objects are displayed in the open and may be touched.
  • We have two wheelchairs available on a first come first served basis.
  • Adapted toilets are available on both main levels and in the Visitor Centre.
  • Assistance Dogs Only assistance dogs are welcome in the museum.
  • Our car park is directly outside of the Visitor Centre and includes allocated parking spaces for visitors with disabilities.
  • The car park is step free, but does have some sloping and uneven ground.
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10am to 4pm – 1 November to 31 March

10am to 5pm – 1 April to 31 October

Open from Tuesday to Sunday during term time

Open daily during school and bank holidays

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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Free admission

Parking £3

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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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