Victorian Barracks recreated at Fort Nelson Museum, Portsmouth

One of the defensive forts built by Lord Palmerston in the 1860s, Fort Nelson is home to the national collection of canon and artillery pieces part of the Royal Armouries Collection, formerly housed at the Tower of London.

Built during the 1860s by Lord Palmerston, Fort Nelson forms part of a chain of defences built around Portsmouth, to protect Portsmouth Dockyard, home of the Royal Navy, from attack by the French.

These defences included a string of forts along Portsdown Hill, the four Solent Sea Forts built in the Solent and forts and defencive improvements at Portsmouth Harbour, Gosport and the Isle of Wight.

Fort nelson is probably one of the best preserved examples of a Victorian fortress that you can visit. The fort has recently undergone a multi-million pound redevelopment programme improving it's already impressive facilities. The new facilities include a purpose built new visitor centre, cafe 1871, fantastic new displays and galleries including the magnificent Voice of the Guns display.


Fort Nelson is a beautifully preserved brick built Victorian fortress retaining historic architecture of it's time, plus some aspects of it's Second World War heritage is also evident. But in addition to this Fort Nelson boasts the following:

  • Royal Armouries Artillery, Fort nelson is home to the Royal Armouries artillery collection with 350 of these big guns on display.
  • Art of the Guns, excellent displays of royally decorated guns with castings such as dragons and other mythical beasts.
  • Tunnels and underground chambers,there is a labyrinth of secret tunnels, gun emplacements and arsenals to explore underneath the fort itself.
  • Don't get lost down there !
  • Galleries, superb new galleries with interactive displays, military history and scenes recreating the fort's Victorian past.
  • Daily gun firings, historic cannon are fired once a day on the parade ground, be warned they are loud. Check firing times before your visit.
  • Guided tours, uncover the history of Fort Nelson with one of the fort's guides.
Interactive displays at Fort Nelson Museum, Portsmouth

The Royal Armouries at Fort Nelson museum is home to the national collection of historic cannon and big guns. This is one of the finest collections in the world with over 350 cannon dating back over 600 years and from every corner of the earth. The collection was originally housed at the Tower of London and was moved to Fort Nelson in 1995.

Every day, visitors can see one of the big guns being fired and explore secret underground tunnels and enjoy incredible views from the ramparts. An extensive programme of special event spectaculars takes place throughout the year.


Fort Nelson is open every day except 24th, 25th and 26th December.
Summer (April to October 10am - 5pm (last admission 4pm),
Winter (November - March) 10.30am - 4pm (last admission 3pm).

Admission is free, although there are admission charges for special events.

Address: Fort Nelson, Portsdown Hill Road, Fareham, Hants, PO17 6AN
Telephone: 01329 233734

Photo of the outer defensive wall and ditch at Fort Nelson, Portsmouth Photo of a 25 pounder gun being fired, at the Royal Armouries Museum, Fort Nelson, Portsmouth