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Information for Schools

There is a lot to see and do on your visit to Southsea Castle. Please see further down the page for information on the exhibitions.

Click here for our Autumn / Winter 2015 - 2016 Newsletter for Schools.

Wonder Boxes - the new-look loans collection from Portsmouth Museums

The first phase of our review of the Museum Loans Collection is complete and the first batch loan items, rebranded as Wonder Boxes, are available for use.

Our fabulous loans boxes are the perfect stimulus for creative work across the curriculum, including science, art & design, literacy and history.  Bring a little awe and wonder into your classroom with bird, mammal, amphibian and reptile specimens or skulls and skeletons.  Or bring the past to life with high quality model dinosaurs and original and replica artefacts illustrating life in Ancient Egypt.

Click here to download the latest edition of the illustrated Wonder Box Catalogue.

The catalogue lists all of the loans boxes currently available and explains how to book a box and the Terms and Conditions under which the loans scheme operates.  New boxes will be added to the catalogue as the review process continues, starting with pre-history and geology in 2015.

Length of Stay and Group Sizes

The typical visit time by a group is 1 – 11/2 hours.  The maximum group size for a visit is 60 pupils. Lunch facilities are not available on site. A teacher/pupil ratio of at least 1:12 is essential. (When school groups are in the museum, the behaviour of the children or students is the responsibility of the teacher in charge).

Booking a group visit

For all enquiries, sessions and group visits please telephone us on 023 9283 4744 / 4737 or click here to email us: please state your name, school contact details, number/age of children, which museum/exhibition you are interested in and your preferred dates/times.  If enquiring at weekends or when the museum's group department is unavailable, please contact Southsea Castle directly.


No admission charge is made for self-led visits. Cheques payable to 'Portsmouth City Council', Credit cards: MasterCard or Visa.

Brief Historical Background

Southsea Castle was built between 1544 and 1545 by Henry VIII as part of a system to defend the south coast against a possible French invasion and was built to defend the approaches to Portsmouth Harbour and the Royal Dockyard. The Castle was then progressively developed over 400 years to adapt to new weapons and new methods of warfare. In the 1860's, massive new gun batteries were constructed of earth on either side of the old Castle to increase its firepower. The Castle was finally withdrawn from active service in 1960.


Most of the Castle as seen today is 19th century but there are several surviving Tudor sections and features. The most exciting 19th century addition is an under-ground tunnel (Counterscarp gallery) around the moat. A range of cannons on display shows the development of artillery during the active period of the Castle's history. The displays in the Keep provide a brief introduction to the military history of Southsea Castle and the history of the defences of Portsmouth. There are sections on the Tudor period (Henry VIII), including a reconstruction of a Tudor gunport scene, eighteenth century and the Victorian period. An audio-visual show (in English) on the Castle's history is available in the western Galleries.

Warning: Southsea Castle is an ancient monument, because of this some areas are paved with cobbles and uneven, and some steps are worn with age. Please take particular care with the supervision of your party as the behaviour of the pupils whilst in the Castle is the responsibility of the teacher. In the interests of safety children must not climb on guns or the walls, and should walk at all times.

National Curriculum Links- A broad and balanced approach

Southsea Castle is suitable for a wide range of National Curriculum work. Here are some suggestions of ways in which you can link your visit to National Curriculum areas.

K52 - Life in Tudor Times
KS2 - Local HIstory
KS3 - The Making of the United Kingdom 1500-1750

Interpretations of History using:
· the guide book
· pictorial information
Tudor History and Portsmouth. Fortifications. Tudor Life. Plays and Presentations. Southsea Castle Tudor Week. Chronology - important dates in the life of Southsea Castle.

Measurement at KS 2 & 3
Measuring. Using a tape measure and trundle wheel. Using a cinometer to calculate the height. Right angles and any others. Shapes in the Castle - 2D . Shapes in the Castle - 3D.

For maths work a measuring kit is available for use by school groups. This contains a 30-metre/100 ft. tape measure, inclinometers and callipers. It is suitable for measuring the height of the walls, diameter of cannon balls and the bore of cannons.

Texts to be used as part of Literacy Hour covering range of genre, Fictional - Factual. How and why the castle was built. Henry's visit to Portsmouth. The sinking of the Mary Rose.

Southsea Castle and the locality. Looking at different maps. To answer the question - "Why aren't any houses built near Southsea Castle?"

Aim and Fire!! Plan and construct an invention that will fire a missile. Devise a fair test e.g. same size missile or same resources. Design, make, test, evaluate.

Looking at shape. Observational drawing. Artefacts. Colour matching - multi media. Looking at texture. The Cowdray Print.

Please book now

We look forward to welcoming you soon! Call us on 023 9283 4744 / 4737 to make a booking.

Southsea Castle
Visit the City Museums site
Visit the Natural History Museum Site
Visit the D-day museum site
Visit the Records Office site
Visit the Charles Dickens site
Visit the Portsmouth Museum Portal site


Aerial photo of Southsea Castle

Exploring the castle walls

Exploring the tunnels around the moat