Royal Armouries, Fort Nelson
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.
Museum, Heritage site, Castle or defences
10am – 5pm
Last admission 4pm
10.30am – 4pm
Last admission 3pm
Closed 24, 25 and 26 December
Free entry. A small charge may apply for special events and some activities.
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
Archaeology, Architecture, Decorative and Applied Art, Social History, Weapons and War
Sunday Gun Firings
- 23 October 2016
- 13 November 2016
On selected Sundays throughout the year there are special firings, featuring authentic gun drills by uniformed detachments from Portsdown Artillery Volunteers.
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.
The detachments will be available after the firings to talk about the guns and their history.
Guns are fired at:
11:30am, 2pm and 3pm.
These events are FREE and everyone is welcome.
- Family friendly
Guns are fired at 11:30am, 2pm and 3pm. These events are free and everyone is welcome.
- 8 — 9 October 2016 10am-4:30pm
Whether a seasoned sketcher or occasional doodler, families are invited to venture underground into the depths of the tunnels at Fort Nelson on Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 October for the annual Big Draw Event – an epic initiative to encourage everybody to discover the delights of drawing.
Run internationally by an independent charity, The Big Draw encourages drawing and creativity in museums across five continents and 20 countries. The launch of this year’s Big Draw Festival will bring together STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths) as a means of highlighting the essential role of Arts within formal education alongside, and within, Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.
Children and adults are encouraged to connect with their surroundings and draw using different mediums how they depict the tunnel was built. The event aims to offer unlimited creativity for those who love to draw, and inspiration for those who think they cannot. Help to create a giant mural of images stretching the length of the tunnel passage throughout the weekend.
Visitors are invited to participate in an informative insight session which takes a guided tour of the tunnel where the construction techniques and tools used by the navvies are explained.
With 19 acres of ramparts, the 25-pounder quick-fire field gun fired daily at 1 pm on the parade plus secret tunnels to explore, the Fort is an exciting day out for all the family. Parking and admission to the museum are free. The museum is open daily 10 am – 5 pm.
- Any age
Admission, parking and participation in the Underground Event is FREE
- 24 — 30 October 2016
Fort Nelson is a great place to visit at any time of the year but around Halloween this historic Victorian fort, with its underground tunnels and secret chambers, is particularly atmospheric.
As well as a whole museum of national treasures to explore our spooky half term activities for families are sure to keep the kids out of mischief.
There are all sorts of mythical beasts and amazing animals hidden among the big guns. Come and explore the galleries with a fun ‘tame or terrifying’ trail and see who you can find. Then have a go at making a dragon mask or colouring a picture of your favourite creature. There’ll be frightening fish, scary snakes and lots of spooky things to make and take home (3-12 years, drop-in sessions, £2.50).
We also need junior detectives to piece together clues and solve The Curious Case of William Clifford, a navvy who mysteriously disappeared from Fort Nelson in October 1864. Based on a true Fort mystery this underground adventure led by costumed characters will keep the whole family enthralled. (Suitable for ages 5-12, £3.50, sessions at 11am, 12 noon, 2 pm, 3.30 pm).
Museum admission is free. Some activities carry a small charge.
Tame and terrifying trail and spooky crafts: £2.50 per child
The Curious Case of William Clifford: £3.50 per child
Museums at Night: Might mortars
- 28 October 2016 6:30-10pm
Those taking part in the tours will be able to experience Fort Nelson when the lights go down and see for themselves how the museum’s character changes dramatically during the twilight hours.
Visitors will be able to discover what Victorian garrison life would have been like on a tour of the Fort’s barracks room and kitchen where you can sample typical food and drink of the period.
A costumed guide will escort visitors through the atmospheric underground tunnel to the North Mortar Battery, where a uniformed detachment from Portsdown Artillery Volunteers will demonstrate a gun-drill and live fire the 13-inch mortar.
Join us at Fort Nelson for this Museums at Night event and experience history and explosions after dark as part of the nationwide Museums at Night festival.
- Any age
Adults: £15 Children: £10 (book on-line www.royalarmouries.org)
Royal Armouries Museum, Fort Nelson, Fareham
Fort Nelson is a scheduled ancient monument and contains areas of uneven ground. Please wear sensible footwear and warm clothing.
Royal Armouries, Fort Nelson
Portsdown Hill Road