Portchester Castle Castles
Portchester can be considered a complete history of England in one place.
First used by the Romans as a base from which they could clear the sea of barbarian raiders, it became a Saxon settlement from the middle of the 5th century until the end of the 9th century. A castle was first built here in the early 12th century. It became a useful stronghold and its proximity to the harbour made it ideal for channel crossings. Henry I used it often and it became both a secure lodging and a safe depository for treasury bullion.
The castle was captured by the French in 1215 during the barons' rebellion against King John and its demolition was ordered by his successor, Henry III. It was retained, however, and used to store munitions for wars against France. Throughout the following Hundred Years War, the castle was on the front line and repelled raids from across the channel. When Richard II made peace with France in 1396, he rebuilt much of the castle, transforming part of it into a palace.
Henry V used Portchester as a departure point for Agincourt in 1415, but thereafter it was superseded by Portsmouth and saw little action. It was used to house troops in the Civil War and prisoners of war during the Napoleonic Wars; graffiti from the late 18th and early 19th centuries can still be seen.
An exhibition in the castle reveals a wide range of archaeological artefacts and an interactive audio tour adds to the wonderful experience of a visit to Portchester Castle.
AddressCastle Street, Portchester, Hampshire, PO16 9QW
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