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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. However to make the most of your visit you may wish to book one of our specialist led workshops on 'The Tudors at Southsea Castle', details below.
The Tudors at Southsea Castle Workshop
Travel back in time to experience life in a castle inhabited by Tudor characters in this exciting and dramatic activity.
- Descend into a tunnel accompanied by a Time Guide and emerge in Southsea Castle in 1545, just days before the sinking of the Mary Rose.
- Brave the gloomy powder magazine to meet the garrison’s armourer who will show you Tudor weapons and give you armour to handle and try on.
- Enter the keep and watch a soldier demonstrate how longbows and canons are used. Watch out for the spectacular gunpowder demonstration!
- Smell herbs and spices in the kitchen, help the cook prepare food for a banquet and learn about the different foods and drinks served in rich and poor households.
- Hear tales of life at the court of Henry VIII and learn about 16th century manners and how to avoid the executioner’s axe!
- Join in an energetic Tudor dance, accompanied by musicians, before returning to the 21st century via the Time Tunnel.
|Age||Suitable for Key Stage 2|
|Duration||Two 2-hour sessions per day: 10am - 12noon and 12.30pm - 2.30pm|
|Dates||Tuesday 10 June to Thursday 26 June. Sessions available Monday to Friday|
|Cost||£6.00 (+ VAT) per pupil|
|Numbers||Up to 90 pupils can be accommodated at each session|
Length of Stay and Group Sizes
Unless you have booked a led session the typical visit time by a group is 1 - 1½ hours. The recommended maximum number arriving at any one time should not exceed 60 pupils or 90 pupils for a led session. 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/workshop you are interested in and your preferred dates/times.
No admission charge is made for self-led visits. For workshop charges see above. Cheques payable to 'Portsmouth City Council', Credit cards: MasterCard or Visa. Please see above for workshop charges.
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.