Royal Armouries, Fort Nelson

Aerial view of Fort Nelson from the south
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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.

Strategically positioned atop Portsdown Hill, with panoramic views across the Meon Valley and Portsmouth Harbour, Fort Nelson is an historic monument, restored to how it would have been in the 1890s. Visitors can access most areas of the fortifications and see how the Fort would have operated.

Daily gun firing every day at 1pm.

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

Venue Type:

Museum, Heritage site, Castle or defences

Opening hours

Open daily

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

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

Closed 24, 25 and 26 December

Admission charges

Free entry. A small charge may apply for special events and some activities.

Additional info

Our library is open for research purposes by appointment only.

Fort Nelson also houses the world-renowned Royal Armouries collection of historic big guns and cannon, part of the National Museum of Arms and Armour. See the infamous Iraqi Supergun and its ancestor the Great Turkish Bombard of 1464. From the smallest cannon to the giants of the age of the battleship, visitors can see them all at Fort Nelson

Collection details

Archaeology, Architecture, Decorative and Applied Art, Social History, Weapons and War

Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.
Poppies: Wave

Poppies: Wave

  • 13 April — 24 June 2018

14-18 NOW is presenting the iconic poppy structures Wave and Weeping Window at selected locations around the UK until 2018.

Royal Armouries will be hosting Poppies: Wave at Fort Nelson next spring.
Poppies: Wave is from the installation ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ poppies and original concept by artist Paul Cummins and installation designed by Tom Piper – by Paul Cummins Ceramics Limited in conjunction with Historic Royal Palaces, originally at HM Tower of London 2014.

The installation at Fort Nelson will be open to the public from Friday 13 April until Sunday 24 June 2018. Admission will be free.

Poppies: Wave is a sweeping arch of bright red poppy heads suspended on towering stalks. This sculpture, and Weeping Window, by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper were initially conceived as the key dramatic sculptural elements in the installation ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ at the Tower of London in the summer and autumn of 2014. Over the course of their time at the Tower, the two sculptures were gradually surrounded by a vast field of ceramic poppies, each one planted by a volunteer in memory of every British or Colonial life lost at the Front during the First World War. In their original setting they captured the public imagination and were visited by over five million people.

#PoppiesTour

Suitable for

  • Any age

Website

https://royalarmouries.org/events/calendar/2018-04-13/poppies-wave

Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.
Trafalgar

Commemorating the Battle of Trafalgar

  • 22 October 2017 10am-4pm *on now

Visitors will be invited to experience the roar and power of the Royal Armouries fully restored 12-pounder naval gun at Fort Nelson on Sunday 22 October 2017 to mark Lord Nelson’s famous victory at the Battle of Trafalgar.

To commemorate Trafalgar Day, uniformed detachments from HMS Loire and Ubique Right of the Line will fire the 12-pounder muzzle-loading, sea service cannon which was commonly used on Royal Navy ships at Trafalgar, on the parade at 11:30 am, 2 pm and 3 pm. This is in addition to the daily 1 pm firing of the 25-pounder Howitzer on the parade. There will be the opportunity for visitors to inspect the guns following the firings and the uniformed detachment will be available to answer questions about the gun.

Visitors are invited to participate in two Trafalgar themed insight sessions which includes a bespoke handling where visitors can get their hands on history. Visitors will have the opportunity to handle a Victorian naval cutlass and discover some of the fascinating facts behind each item.

The Royal Armouries’ museum at Fort Nelson is home to one of the largest collections of artillery in the UK. Set within 19 acres, there is lots to see and explore including the ramparts, parade, tunnels, galleries and Cafe 1871. The Fort is open daily from 10 am – 5 pm (April – October) and 10 am – 4 pm (November – March), Admission is free.

Insight session: 18 and 19 century naval gunnery
An insight session which takes visitors on a guided tour of the galleries highlighting the development of naval gunnery between the 18 and 19 century.
• 12:30 pm, FREE

Handling insight session: The Battle of Trafalgar
Visitors will have the opportunity to handle objects from the Battle of Trafalgar including naval uniforms, and a Victoria naval cutlass.
• 3:15 pm , FREE

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Free admission and parking

Website

https://royalarmouries.org/events/overview/commemorative-gun-firings

Guts, Gore and gangrene

GUTS, GORE & GANGRENE

  • 23 — 27 October 2017

Half Term Medical Mayhem

This October half term join our very own ‘lady with the lamp’ for some festering fun and medical mayhem in the Fort’s Victorian hospital ward, set up using the innovative nursing ideas of Florence Nightingale.

Your mission is to help one of the garrison soldiers, Tommy Atkins, who is badly wounded and fading fast – can you get him the treatment he needs? Ms Nightingale will take you to meet Mr Stitch, the surgeon. An expert in treating battle wounds he can tell you all about how they were treated at the time of the Crimean War. What method will you choose for Tommy? Then a visit to the pharmacist, Mr Boots. Watch him make up potions, pills and poultices. Will you pick the right remedy to aid poor Tommy’s recovery?

This is a fun, interactive 45-minute activity session suitable for ages 5 – 12. Children must be accompanied by an adult throughout the session. Please note there will be medical and wound references tailored to the age of the audience.

To complement the activity there will be spooky themed make-and-take craft activities for children including flying ghosts, spiders, and skeletons.

Guts, Gore and Gangrene

• Date: Monday 23 – Friday 27 October 2017
• Sessions: 11 am, 12 noon, 2 pm and 3:30 pm daily
• Price: £3.50 per child (suitable for 5-12 year olds)
• Numbers are limited to 16 per session

Children must be accompanied by an adult throughout the session. Please note there will be medical and wound references tailored to the age of the audience.

Spooky themed Arts and Crafts

• Price: £2.50 per child (suitable for 3-12 year olds)
• Time: 10 am – 4 pm daily (drop in sessions)
Pay on the day or pre-book your tickets in advance from the Visitor Centre or by calling 01329 233 734 (subject to availability).

Suitable for

  • 5-6
  • 7-10
  • 11-13

Admission

Guts, Gore and Gangrene: £3.50 per child
Spooky themed Arts and Crafts: £2.50 per child

Website

https://royalarmouries.org/events/calendar/2017-10-23/guts-gore-and-gangrene

Armistice Day

Honouring the Fallen: Armistice Day at Fort Nelson

  • 11 November 2017 10am-4pm

Saturday 11 November 2017

Royal Armouries museum at Fort Nelson will pay tribute on Armistice Day, Saturday 11 November, when staff will fire the 18-pounder on the parade at 11am, to mark the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, followed by two minutes’ silence. The 25-pounder Field Howitzer will be fired at 1pm for the daily salute.

Fort Nelson had a special part to play during both the First and Second World Wars. The Victorian fort acted as a transit depot and training establishment for the thousands of soldiers embarking at Portsmouth for France during the First World War.
Barrack accommodation in and around Portsmouth was at a premium since the wartime garrison at times numbered as many as 25,000 men. The fort was also used as an anti-aircraft ammunition depot and played a crucial part in supporting the defence of the Solent during 1940 and 1941.

There will be an opportunity for visitors to inspect the guns following the firings and the uniformed detachment will be available to answer questions about the guns.
The Royal Armouries at Fort Nelson is home to a remarkable collection of First World War artillery, including the British 18-inch Railway Howitzer in the Artillery Hall. Museum admission and parking at Fort Nelson are free.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Free admission and parking

Website

https://royalarmouries.org/events/events-at-fort-nelson

Marine Salvage Project

The Marine Salvage Project Monthly Conservation talks

  • 12 November 2017 10am-4pm

On the second Sunday of each month, visitors are invited to join our Conservator Matthew Hancock behind-the-scenes for a free 30 minute talk, as he discusses one of the major conservation projects currently being carried out at Fort Nelson, The Marine Salvage Project. The 17th century project focuses on three guns recovered from the sea, including two from the wreck of the HMS London, all of which require technical conservation treatments. The gun recovered from Goodwin Sands is especially interesting as it is manufactured from four different metals.
Talk, 12 noon, FREE

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Free talk

Remembrance Day

Remembrance Salute at Fort Nelson

  • 12 November 2017 10am-4pm

Sunday 12 November 2017

A special firing of an 18-pounder First World War gun on remembrance Sunday, 12 November, at Royal Armouries museum at Fort Nelson will form part of the commemorations to those killed in two world wars and all conflicts since.
Museum visitors will be able to join the nation in remembering the servicemen and women who laid down their lives. A uniformed detachment from Ubique Right of the Line will fire the British 18-pounder field gun on the parade to mark the beginning and end of the two minutes silence at 11am.

The Royal Armouries 18-pounder field gun dates from 1917. The 18-pounders formed the backbone of the British field artillery during the First World War. Over 8,000 of these guns were built in Britain and during the course of the war fired nearly 100 million rounds, causing huge numbers of casualties.

There will be an opportunity for visitors to inspect the guns following the firings and the uniformed detachment will be available to answer questions about the guns.
The Royal Armouries at Fort Nelson is home to a remarkable collection of First World War artillery, including the British 18-inch Railway Howitzer in the Artillery Hall. Museum admission and parking at Fort Nelson are free.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Free admission and parking

Website

https://royalarmouries.org/events/events-at-fort-nelson

Storytime

Storytime: Joyous Japan

  • 15 November 2017 11am-12pm

All ages are welcome at Fort Nelson, so why not join us, every third Wednesday of the month, with under 5s for our free Storytime session in the galleries featuring popular children’s tales.
With a different theme each month, children are invited to gather around for a fun and interactive storytelling experience where they can look, listen, play and have fun with props.
Each session lasts approximately 40 minutes and includes two engaging stories and a mixture of toys designed to provide hands on fun for young children.
Café 1871 is open daily from 10 am – 4 pm for light bites and drinks and food warming and baby change facilities are available on site.
Sessions start at 11am on the third Wednesday of every month. Free, no need to book, just drop in.

Suitable for

  • 0-4

Admission

Free admission and parking

Marine Salvage Project

The Marine Salvage Project Monthly Conservation talks

  • 10 December 2017 12-12:30pm

On the second Sunday of each month, visitors are invited to join our Conservator Matthew Hancock behind-the-scenes for a free 30 minute talk, as he discusses one of the major conservation projects currently being carried out at Fort Nelson, The Marine Salvage Project. The 17th century project focuses on three guns recovered from the sea, including two from the wreck of the HMS London, all of which require technical conservation treatments. The gun recovered from Goodwin Sands is especially interesting as it is manufactured from four different metals.
Talk, 12 noon, FREE

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Free talk

Storytime

Storytime: Exciting England

  • 20 December 2017 11am-12pm

All ages are welcome at Fort Nelson, so why not join us, every third Wednesday of the month, with under 5s for our free Storytime session in the galleries featuring popular children’s tales.
With a different theme each month, children are invited to gather around for a fun and interactive storytelling experience where they can look, listen, play and have fun with props.
Each session lasts approximately 40 minutes and includes two engaging stories and a mixture of toys designed to provide hands on fun for young children.
Café 1871 is open daily from 10 am – 4 pm for light bites and drinks and food warming and baby change facilities are available on site.
Sessions start at 11am on the third Wednesday of every month. Free, no need to book, just drop in.

Suitable for

  • 0-4

Admission

Free admission and parking

Website

https://royalarmouries.org/events/events-at-fort-nelson

Marine Salvage Project

The Marine Salvage Project Monthly Conservation talks

  • 14 January 2018 12-12:30pm

On the second Sunday of each month, visitors are invited to join our Conservator Matthew Hancock behind-the-scenes for a free 30 minute talk, as he discusses one of the major conservation projects currently being carried out at Fort Nelson, The Marine Salvage Project. The 17th century project focuses on three guns recovered from the sea, including two from the wreck of the HMS London, all of which require technical conservation treatments. The gun recovered from Goodwin Sands is especially interesting as it is manufactured from four different metals.
Talk, 12 noon, FREE

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Free talk

Storytime

Storytime: Incredible Italy

  • 17 January 2018 11am-12pm

All ages are welcome at Fort Nelson, so why not join us, every third Wednesday of the month, with under 5s for our free Storytime session in the galleries featuring popular children’s tales.
With a different theme each month, children are invited to gather around for a fun and interactive storytelling experience where they can look, listen, play and have fun with props.
Each session lasts approximately 40 minutes and includes two engaging stories and a mixture of toys designed to provide hands on fun for young children.
Café 1871 is open daily from 10 am – 4 pm for light bites and drinks and food warming and baby change facilities are available on site.
Sessions start at 11am on the third Wednesday of every month. Free, no need to book, just drop in.

Suitable for

  • 0-4

Admission

Free admission and parking

Website

https://royalarmouries.org/events/events-at-fort-nelson

Marine Salvage Project

The Marine Salvage Project Monthly Conservation talks

  • 11 February 2018 12-12:30pm

On the second Sunday of each month, visitors are invited to join our Conservator Matthew Hancock behind-the-scenes for a free 30 minute talk, as he discusses one of the major conservation projects currently being carried out at Fort Nelson, The Marine Salvage Project. The 17th century project focuses on three guns recovered from the sea, including two from the wreck of the HMS London, all of which require technical conservation treatments. The gun recovered from Goodwin Sands is especially interesting as it is manufactured from four different metals.
Talk, 12 noon, FREE

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Free talk

Storytime

Storytime: Amazing Amsterdam

  • 21 February 2018 11am-12pm

All ages are welcome at Fort Nelson, so why not join us, every third Wednesday of the month, with under 5s for our free Storytime session in the galleries featuring popular children’s tales.
With a different theme each month, children are invited to gather around for a fun and interactive storytelling experience where they can look, listen, play and have fun with props.
Each session lasts approximately 40 minutes and includes two engaging stories and a mixture of toys designed to provide hands on fun for young children.
Café 1871 is open daily from 10 am – 4 pm for light bites and drinks and food warming and baby change facilities are available on site.
Sessions start at 11am on the third Wednesday of every month. Free, no need to book, just drop in.

Suitable for

  • 0-4

Admission

Free admission and parking

Website

https://royalarmouries.org/events/events-at-fort-nelson

Royal Armouries, Fort Nelson
Fort Nelson
Portsdown Hill Road
Fareham
Hampshire
PO17 6AN
England

logo: Museums at Night

Website

Website

www.armouries.org.uk

E-mail

General Enquiries

fnenquiries@armouries.org.uk

Telephone

01329 233734

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.
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