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.
Fun at the Fort

Fun at the Fort - Junior Assault Course

  • 24 July — 3 September 2017 *on now

The Royal Armouries will present lots of activities to keep the family entertained at Fort Nelson over the summer holidays. Visitors will have the chance to find out about our amazing collections through ‘Who do you think we are’ which will bring handling collections from the Royal Armouries museum at Leeds to Fort Nelson. There will also be an opportunity to test skills on the junior assault course, witness the daily gun firings and participate in guided tours of the 19-acre site.

Junior assault course

Monday 24 July – Sunday 3 September
Kids will get lots of fresh air and fun on the outdoor adventure course. No need to book, just drop in. Pay once and stay and play all day for £3.50 per child.
• Time: 10 am – 4 pm daily
• Suitable for 3-12 years.

Suitable for

  • 0-4
  • 7-10
  • 5-6
  • 11-13

Admission

£3.50 per child

Website

https://royalarmouries.org/events/calendar/2017-08-01/fun-at-the-fort

Who do you think we are

Who do you think we are?

  • 31 July — 3 September 2017 *on now

The Royal Armouries will present lots of activities to keep the family entertained at Fort Nelson over the summer holidays. Visitors will have the chance to find out about our amazing collections through ‘Who do you think we are’ which will bring handling collections from the Royal Armouries museum at Leeds to Fort Nelson. There will also be an opportunity to test skills on the junior assault course, witness the daily gun firings and participate in guided tours of the 19-acre site.

Who do you think we are?

Monday 31 July – Sunday 3 September

New for this year is the opportunity for visitors to get their hands on some of the amazing objects in the handling collection from the Royal Armouries museum in Leeds. Activities will focus on the five themed galleries in the Leeds Museum; Origins of the Royal Armouries – Monday, Hunting – Tuesday, Self-Defense - Wednesday, Tournament – Thursday, War – Friday, Treasures – Saturday and Sunday.
• Daily children’s sessions at: 11 am and 2 pm
• Daily adult’s sessions: 12 noon and 3 pm
• Free to participate

As well as the gun firings and assault course there are tunnels, ramparts and galleries to explore. Café 1871 is open daily, 10 am – 5 pm for tasty treats and refreshments, and the Kiosk on the parade serves a rage of delicious ice-creams.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Free admission and parking

Website

https://royalarmouries.org/events/calendar/2017-08-01/fun-at-the-fort

Artillery in Action

Artillery in Action

  • 1 — 31 August 2017 *on now

The Royal Armouries will present lots of activities to keep the family entertained at Fort Nelson over the summer holidays. Visitors will have the chance to find out about our amazing collections through ‘Who do you think we are’ which will bring handling collections from the Royal Armouries museum at Leeds to Fort Nelson. There will also be an opportunity to test skills on the junior assault course, witness the daily gun firings and participate in guided tours of the 19-acre site.

Artillery in Action

Tuesday 1 August – Thursday 31 August
Daily 1 pm artillery in action display. Live firing the replica ballista, the wrought iron breech loader gun, and the British 25-pounder Howitzer on the parade.
• Free to watch

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Free admission and parking

Website

https://royalarmouries.org/events/calendar/2017-08-01/fun-at-the-fort

Conservation at Fort Nelson

HERITAGE OPEN DAYS

  • 9 — 10 September 2017 10am-5pm

HERITAGE OPEN DAYS

Starts: 10 am Saturday 9 September 2017
Finishes: 5:00 pm Sunday 10 September 2017
Location: Fort Nelson
Suitable for: Everyone, FREE event.

Celebrating our country’s fantastic history and culture and offering visitors the chance to see hidden places and try out new experiences.
For this year’s Heritage Open Days Fort Nelson will focus on the behind-the-scenes work our Conservators carry out as they skilfully preserve and maintain our collection for future generations.

INSIGHT: MARINE SALVAGE
Talk 11 am and 3 pm. FREE

Conservator Matthew Hancock will discuss one of the major conservation projects currently being carried out at Fort Nelson.
The 17th-century Marine Salvage Project focuses on three guns recovered from the river Thames and Goodwin Sands, off the Kent coast, all of which require technical conservation treatments. The gun recovered from Goodwin Sands is especially interesting as it is manufactured from four different types of metal.

CONSERVATION BEHIND THE SCENES
Talk and tour, 12 noon and 2 pm. FREE

Join Conservator Matthew Hancock on a short tour of the Fort’s conservation workshop for an interesting insight in to some of the challenges faced when conserving collection objects and the technical treatments used to resolve them.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Free admission and parking

Website

https://royalarmouries.org/events/calendar/2017-09-09/heritage-open-day

16 - pounder

Witness the power and might of the 16-pounder at Fort Nelson

  • 10 September 2017 10am-5pm

Visitors are invited to experience the power and might of one of the big guns from the Royal Armouries’ national collection on Sunday 10 September, as the highlight of a free day out for all the family.

The power and might of the 16-pounder will echo across Fort Nelson’s parade on Sunday 10 September, in the latest of a series of spectacular free Sunday gun firings featuring authentic gun drills.

Dressed in Victorian uniforms, detachments from the Portsdown Artillery Volunteers will fire the historic 16-pounder gun at 11:30 am, 2:00 pm and 3:00 pm on the parade of the 19th century fort.

As well as daily 1 pm gun firings, the Royal Armouries’ museum at Fort Nelson offers a great day out for all the family. Standing high on Portsdown Hill, Fareham, the Victorian fort is home to one of the largest collections of artillery in the UK. There is so much to see and explore including the ramparts, parade, tunnels and Cafe 1871. The Fort is open from 10 am – 5 pm daily and admission and parking is free.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Free admission and parking

Website

https://royalarmouries.org/events/overview/sunday-gun-firings-2017

Fort Talks

Fort Talk: The Russian Revolution - 100 Years On

  • 20 September 2017 7-9pm

To commemorate the hundredth year after the Russian Revolution, Royal Armouries museum at Fort Nelson are inviting visitors to attend an after-hours talk on Wednesday 20 September with guest speaker Dr Paul Flenley.

Dr Paul Flenley, Subject Leader and Principal Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at Portsmouth University, will reveal some of the findings he uncovered whilst researching ‘The Russian Revolution: 100 years on’.

During the evening, Dr Paul Flenley will focus on both the idealistic aspirations and the harsh reality of the Revolution and its aftermath.

Fort Talk 2: THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION: 100 YEARS ON
Guest Speaker: Dr Paul Flenley, Subject Leader and Principle Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at Portsmouth University.

The 1917 Russian Revolution was in many ways the pivotal event of the Twentieth Century. This talk will assess the consequences of the revolution. It will look at how the attempt to build a new society inspired many throughout the world but also led to the establishment of Stalinist-type dictatorships. The revolution led to the ideological division of the world. Even after the end of the Cold War the continuing consequences of the collapse of the Soviet Union mean the revolution still has real impact today.

Wednesday: 20 September
Time: 7 pm – 9 pm
Tickets: £5 per person and includes refreshments

Tickets are available in advance from the Royal Armouries website: https://royalarmouries.org/events/overview/fort-talks

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children

Admission

Tickets cost £5 per person and include refreshments.

Website

https://royalarmouries.org/events/overview/fort-talks

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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