Overlooking Portland Harbour in Dorset stands one of Henry VIII’s finest coastal forts, built in the early 1540s to protect against French and Spanish invasion.
Today it provides a great day out for visitors and its audio tour, included in the admission price, tells of the castle’s 450 year history and the part it played in the First and Second World Wars. Portland Castle offers lots to do for families and couples alike, and only four miles from Weymouth, this historic adventure can easily be combined with some more contemporary seaside fun.
Enjoy stunning sea views from the gun platforms, and get close to the powerful cannons. Then take a stroll in the Contemporary Heritage Garden.
- The free audio tour bringing history to life, from the Tudors to the Second World War
- The stunning sea views from the gun platform
- Exploring the ‘herb garden’ with our discovery pack
- A visit to the Tudor kitchen, armoury and gun platforms
The Isle of Portland is a tied island, 6 kilometres long by 2.7 kilometres wide, in the English Channel. Portland is 8 kilometres south of the resort of Weymouth, forming the southernmost point of the county of Dorset, England. A barrier beach called Chesil Beach joins it to the mainland.
Become a Tudor soldier or Royalist Gunner when you try on the outfits and armour in the Armoury. Or challenge the family to a game of Shove Groats or Nine Men’s Morris to experience evening entertainment Tudor style.
You can also make your own heraldic glass design using the replica pieces based on those discovered in the Captain’s Chamber. Great family fun for all.
THE TUDOR KITCHEN
Visit the kitchen with its displays of food to see how staff would have prepared and cooked food for the troops based at the castle. Find out how they stored the produce to keep it fresh and see the large fireplace where the meals would have been cooked. Handle the replica kitchen utensils and lift up the lids of the storage vessels on show.
ENJOY THE VIEWS
Step outside to the uper gun platform and walk along the wall walk to enjoy far reaching views out to sea. You can see the 19th century breakwater, which offers shelter to small craft as well as the fortifications protecting the harbour. Out to sea are two concrete Pheonix Cassions dating from the D-Day preparations of 1944.
THE GUN ROOM
Now open to the sky but once covered with a roof to provide an additional upper gun platform, this room still houses five guns casemates. Guns were fired through ports and you can see one with a shutter to use when not in use. Today there is a mix of guns to discover and the remains of a fireplace used by the garrison.
MEET THE GOVERNOR
As well as housing military troops throughout the centuries, the castle has been home to a number of well known Governors including Sir Walter Raleigh. Find out how this explorer came to reside at the castle in the Captain’s Chamber and look for the 16th century inscription which was found here. Next door is the latrine where a flushing toilet was installed in later years.
PORTLAND AT WAR
A Royalist stronghold during the Civil War, the castle was captured and held siege by Parliamentarian forces in 1643. A Garrison remained at the castle for many years after this and later it served as an ordnance store for seaplanes on anti-submarine patrols in the First World War. During WWII, it was used as a training base for combined operations including exercises for the D-Day landings. Find out more in the guide book.
THE CAPTAIN’S TEAROOM
Once you have explored the castle, enjoy a selection of light lunches including freshly made sandwiches, soups and refreshing drinks. Indulge in a choice of lovely cakes or cream tea with home-made scones, fruity jam and delicious clotted cream.
Or you could relax with a steaming latte in the sheltered courtyard with lovely views across to the Contemporary Heritage Garden.