Southsea Castle

Small castle with lighthouse on the edge of a harbour
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Built in 1544, Southsea Castle was part of a series of fortifications constructed by Henry VIII around England's coasts to protect the country from invaders. Barely was the work completed when Henry VIII's flagship, the Mary Rose, tragically sank in front of the Castle. During the English Civil War, nearly a century later, the Castle was captured for the only time in its history, by Parliamentarian forces.

Over the centuries, Southsea Castle's defences were strengthened so that it could continue to protect Portsmouth. In the 19th Century a tunnel was built to defend the Castle moat. Visitors can still enter the tunnel and see how the Castle would have been defended against invaders.

The Castle has had many other uses besides defence. For a while it was a military prison. A lighthouse was built in the 1820s, and is still in use by shipping today. In 1960 the Castle left military service. It was acquired by Portsmouth City Council, which restored the Castle to its 19th Century appearance.

Venue Type:

Castle or defences, Ship or maritime heritage site

Opening hours

Open Tuesday - Sunday, and Bank Holiday Mondays, 10.00am - 5.00pm, April - October.
Closed on Mondays (except for Bank Holidays).
Last entry is 30 minutes before closing time.
Please note: Some areas of Southsea Castle may be closed or inaccessible for operational purposes.

Admission charges

Free admission.

Additional info

Southsea Castle can cater for wedding receptions up to 100 guests for a formal reception or 150 for an informal one in our dedicated marquee. Telephone for details.

Collection details

Weapons and War

Southsea Castle
Clarence Esplanade




023 9284 1625

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.