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.


Suitable for

  • Any age


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.