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
Storytime sessions at Fort Nelson
- 18 January — 21 June 2017 *on now
All ages are welcome at Fort Nelson, so why not join us, every third Wednesday of the month, with under 5s for our new 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 20 minutes and includes an engaging story and mixture of toys designed to provide hands on fun for young children.
Café 1871 is open daily from 10:30am – 4pm 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.
The Storytime sessions are free.
Admission and parking is free.
Notorious Navvies at Fort Nelson
- 20 — 24 February 2017 *on now
Junior Navvie Challenge
Teams of young navvies will explore the Fort with our very own ‘19th-century navvy’ Bill, who will show them some of the incredible construction features of Fort Nelson. Then the hard work begins and the apprentices will have a go at wheelbarrow races, constructing keystone arches and loads more. But will they earn their pay?
•Sessions: 11 am, 12 noon, 2 pm and 3 pm
£3.50 per child (suitable for 3-12 year olds). Numbers are limited to 16 per session
Victorian ‘make and take’ crafts
Families are invited to get creative in a Victorian ‘make and take’ craft workshop.
•Child (3-12 years): £2.50
Insight session: Florence
Visit the forts hospital gallery and discover the pioneering work of the ‘Lady with the Lamp’. Visitors will have the opportunity to examine the contents of a replica medical bag and find out what life would have been like in the sick bay for Victorian Garrison soldiers. Daily, 12:30 and 3:15 pm,
Junior Navvie Challenge: £3.50 per child
Victorian crafts: £2.50 per child
Insight session (Florence): Free
Pay on the day or pre-book your tickets in advance. Telephone 01329 233 734 or visit the Fort Nelson Visitor Centre.
Museums at Night: Blasts from the past
- 19 May 2017 6-9:15pm
When the lights go down, the themed event will showcase guns from the Royal Armouries’ national collection of artillery. Visitors will be given exclusive after-hours access to some of the unseen subterranean areas of Fort Nelson including the rarely opened and eerie underground West tunnel and experience the ground shake from the immense power of the 32-pounder in the North Caponier and witness the roar and agility of the World War II sexton on the parade. Costumed characters will provide insights throughout the evening.
Throughout the evening costumed characters will provide presentations and handling sessions in the fort’s Artillery Hall and kitchen where visitors will be able to find out what Victorian garrison life was like for soldiers stationed at the Royal Armouries’ Fort Nelson during World War II, plus in the hospital gallery visitors will have the opportunity to experience the sights and smells of traditional Victorian medicine, examine a replica medicine bag and its contents and discover the pioneering work of Florence Nightingale.
The retail shop and Café 1871 will be open throughout the evening for hot drinks and tasty treats.
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 so much to see and explore after hours including the Ramparts, Parade, tunnels, and galleries.
- Any age
Children: £3 (aged 3-15 years)
Family ticket: £12.50 (1 adult & 3 children or 2 adults & 2 children).
(Pre- booking is essential via telephone 01329 233 734 or visit the Fort Nelson Visitor Centre).
Royal Armouries, Fort Nelson
Portsdown Hill Road