Thursday, 20 October 2011

Portchester Castle

In July 2008, to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, we went to Hampshire for a few days. Unfortunately, the weather was NOTHING like it had been in 1983 & we were subjected to driving rain, flash floods & temperatures more suited to January. It really was awful. However, we managed to visit a couple of places, Portchester Castle being one of them.

Said to be the most impressive and best-preserved of the Roman 'Saxon Shore' forts, Portchester Castle was originally built in the late 3rd century. In 1130 the Normans built a great tower within the walls. The keep was originally only two storeys high and was built with stone imported from Caen in France

The castle backs right on to the Solent & because of this strategic position, quite a few medieval  Kings spent a lot of money on improvements & maintenance.

It would have been a lovely view if the weather had behaved :o) However, you can still imagine the ships that would have sailed up the Solent & the view it would have been from the castle.

To enter the castle, you cross a small bridge over a little moat. As you can see, it's been spitting with rain.
A LOT !! :o)

This was the main entrance into the actual castle itself.  On either side of the door are the places for lights - probably candles or lanterns of some sort. Quite an impressive entrance, I think.

Although the castle is in ruins, you can still see how the windows & the floors used to look.

A view from one of the top windows.
You can just make out the top of St. Mary's Church in this photo. The church was built in the 1120s as an Augustinian Priory & is still an active church, with services every week.

Some internal views. The castle was used as a jail from the mid 1600s until the 19th century when it housed over 7000 prisoners from the Napoleonic Wars. 

A *wee* room :o)

I don't know how old this painting on the wall is, but the colours are still so vibrant. To the left of the big picture is a smaller one of  what looks to be Portchester Castle itself, & underneath, is some graffiti dated 1869.

See how narow the passageways were, leading to stone spiral staircases. I wouldn't want to be rushing up or down there & meeting somone going in the opposite direction. With no passing places, who backs up ?! :o)

The beams are where the floor used to be. When the castle was used as a prison, the prisoners were issued with 2 shirts, a blanket, a mattress & an under mattress made of straw. The Keep was used to house 3000 prisoners & they slept on hammocks slung on hooks in the beams.

This room was fairly bright, even on such a wet & miserable day. The 2 windows allowed in a fair amount of light, so with candles as well, it would have been quite a nice place to sit & get on with whatever Medieval people got on with in a castle :o)

Some objects found around the castle. On the west side of the castle was once the prison hospital - now a private house - & those that died in captivity were quite often buried in what is now the mudflats on the south side of the castle. Bad storms have been known to disturb these burials & bones have been discovered.

And lastly, 2 views of St. Mary's Church, which is diagonally opposite the castle :o)
The entrance to the church.

View from the churchyard.


  1. Not somewhere I have ever been .... must add it to the list of places to go.

  2. Same as Liz, I used to live down that way but never visited, looks like I am going to have to make a list of the places I would like to visit!! Great photos :) xx