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)
10am – 5pm
Last admission 4pm

Winter (Nov-Mar)
10.30am – 4pm
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

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.
Victorian Christmas

Victorian Christmas at Fort Nelson

  • 19 — 23 December 2016

Step back in time to meet the head cook Mrs Blenkinsop as she prepares dishes for a Victorian Christmas feast for the inhabitants of the Fort.

The barrack room will be festively decorated with oranges and cloves and greenery, the original range will be lit and the smell of freshly baked mince pies will fill the air.
From the kitchen area visitors will be taken to the Officers’ mess in the Upper Redan to see the difference between the Christmas fare for men and officers and to learn more about how they would have lived whilst at the Fort.

As part of the experience, warm mulled wine and a non-alcoholic punch will be served to the tour group, along with one of Mrs Blenkinsopp’s delicious mince pies, still warm from the range.

Suitable for

  • Any age


Sessions: 11am, 12 noon, 2 pm and 3:00 pm
£2.50 per adult / Under 16’s FREE (20 people per session)
Each session will last approximately 45 minutes.

Pay on the day or pre book your tickets on advance. Telephone 01329 233 734 or Visit the Fort Nelson Visitor Centre.

Fort Nelson will be closed on 24, 25 and 26 December 2016


Mince Spies

Mince Spies at Fort Nelson

  • 27 December 2016 — 2 January 2017

Come and get some fresh air, and stretch your legs this festive period. The Royal Armouries is calling on all junior spies to find out if they have got what it takes to become a Victorian secret agent and plot to attack Fort Nelson.

• £2.00 per trail, drop in sessions, pay on the day.
• Winter opening times: 10:30 am – 4 pm.

Museum admission and parking is free. Fort Nelson will be closed on 24, 25 and 26 December 2016

Suitable for

  • 0-4
  • 7-10
  • 14-15
  • 5-6
  • 11-13


£2.00 per trail, drop in sessions, pay on the day.

Museum parking and admission is free.

Royal Armouries, Fort Nelson
Fort Nelson
Portsdown Hill Road
PO17 6AN

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General Enquiries


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.