VISIT  PORTLAND CASTLE  WITH ENGLISH  HERITAGE  MEMBERSHIP

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TICKETS & PRICES

Adults: £6.90
Children 5-17 Years: £4.10
Families (2 adults, up to 3 Children): £17.80
Families (1 adult, up to 3 Children): £11.00

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Visiting Portland Castle

Watching over Portland Harbour in Dorset, Portland Castle is one of the best-preserved castles in the United Kingdom. Built by Henry VIII during his reign, this coastal fort is one of the finest castles in the region. Today, the Castle is a tourist attraction under the care of English Heritage.

Parking

A car park is 10 metres (32.80 ft) from the entrance of Portland Castle with 40 spaces; 10 disabled bays are located 30 metres (98.42 ft) from the entrance. It’s free of charge for English Heritage members only.

Since the spaces may be inadequate, especially during peak seasons, visitors can also park at Chiswell Beach, five minutes away from the Castle. Off-site parking areas are also available for coaches.

 

Price

Admission charges for Portland Castle are as follows: 

  • English Heritage members - Free
  • Adults - £7.60 with donation/£6.90 without donation
  • Children (5 – 17 years) - £4.60 with donation/£4.10 without donation
  • Concessions (Students with official student cards and 65years+) - £6.90 with donation/£6.20 without donation
  • Family (2 adults and up to 3 children) - £19.80 with donation/£17.80 without donation
  • Family (1 adult and up to 4 children) - £12.20 with donation/£11.00 without donation
  • Overseas Visitor pass (9 or 16 days unlimited)

 

Opening

Portland Castle is open daily from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m

Location and Access

Portland Castle is located on Liberty Road, Castletown, on the Isle of Portland, Dorset, United Kingdom.

The Castle is about four miles (6.43 km) from Weymouth and is accessible by both rail and road.

Available bus services include Summer 501 that has direct access to the Castle. At times, you can also find the South West Coach 206 or First service 1 bus lines. The nearest train station is Weymouth, 4.5 miles (7.24 km) from the Castle.

Portland Castle is accessible to all visitor categories. A disabled parking space, with a level tarmac path, is available at the Castle grounds. However, there’s no crossing road between the car park and the site entrance.

Know Before You Go

  • Though you don’t have to pre-book your visit, booking is highly recommended. You’ll have an entry guarantee and the best prices when you book your visit on the English Heritage website.
  • English Heritage Members must have their membership cards for free entry.
  • Visitors must bring their booking confirmation on the day of the visit.
  • The latest booking time is 8.45 a.m. on the day of the planned visit.
  • Visit peak times include Bank Holidays and between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • English Heritage allows dogs on leads at the Castle grounds. Assistance dogs are also welcome at Portland Castle.
  • Portland Castle is family-friendly with baby-changing and food-warming facilities available onsite. Push cars are allowed, but not all areas within the grounds are push car-accessible. A highchair is also available for use.
  • Toilets and disabled toilets available on-site

Places To Stay Nearby

Atlantic House

Distance from Portland Castle: 0.16 km (0.09 mi)

Located on Ayton Drive, Portland, the Atlantic House is a 3.5-star apartment and an ideal accommodation facility for couples and small families. The Atlantic House is ideal for guests wishing to unwind in a coastal setting, as it offers outdoor space and other attractive amenities.

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The Aqua

Distance from Portland Castle: 0.32 km (0.19 mi)

Strategically situated at the beach in Castletown, The Aqua is a 3-star hotel offering magnificent sea views and top-notch accommodation. The beachfront hotel features popular amenities, including a bar/lounge, free WiFi and parking, a restaurant, a café, and well-furnished rooms.

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The Heights Hotel

Distance from Portland Castle: 1.45 km (0.90 mi)

Located on Yeates Road near Weymouth, The Heights Hotel is a 4-star hotel at the crest of the Isle of Portland. Apart from offering panoramic views of the coastland and the sea, The Heights Hotel features a bar, bistro, coffee shop, 66 forms of accommodation, family and business rooms, and a gym.

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History of Portland Castle

Portland Castle isn’t among the oldest castles in England, but it has lasted for over 450 years. It served as an essential defence against the French and Roman invasion and later as a seaplane base and office for naval officers during the First and Second World Wars.

Time Line


-1539 to 1541 (Castle Constructed By Henry VIII)

Following the tension among England, France, and the Roman Empire, Henry VIII established an artillery fort on the Isle of Portland.

Together with Sandsfoot Castle (sister castle), Portland Castle was to serve as a coastal defence against the invasion of the French and Romans. It was a Tudor fort whose total construction cost amounted to £5000.

The Castle’s design differed from other forts constructed during the same period. While others, including Calshot and Pendennis Castles, were circular, Portland Castle was a circle segment and had a keep with rectangular wings. Hence, Portland Castle obtained a fan shape.

White Portland Stone was the Castle’s principal building material. The Castle building included a curved central tower, a gun battery, and two angular wings.

The King added eleven artillery pieces to the Castle and appointed Thomas Mervin as the officer in charge of the four gunners and two other men.

Portland Castle didn’t experience any military action after its completion until the next century.

-1642 to 1651 (Raided; Besieged; Garrisoned)

At the start of the English Civil War, the Parliamentary troops raided Portland Castle. However, in 1643, the Royalists (who supported King Charles I) overpowered them and besieged the Castle. The Royalist leader had some of his men disguised as Parliamentarians and used this trick to subdue the Parliamentary army.

The Royalist garrison held Portland Castle for three years, surviving two raids by Parliamentary troops. However, they lost the war and surrendered in 1646. The Castle also served as a prison for rebels.

-1653

Portland Castle participated in repelling the Dutch attack during the Commonwealth period.

-1700s

Portland Castle started deteriorating, though it still served as a fort for protecting private shipments. During the Napoleonic Wars, Portland Castle had been armed ready for defence but lacked artillery upgrades. Therefore, it was not a sufficient defence spot.

-1815 (Castle Becomes Private Residence)

After the Napoleon War, Portland Castle became a private residence. In this Victorian era, Captain Charles Manning, the builder of Portland Breakwater, rented the Castle. Other forts around Portland Castle, including the Verne Citadel, Nothe, and Breakwater Forts, served as defences during this period.

-1869

The War Office (the government section in charge of the British Army) took charge of Portland Castle. However, the Castle was not adequately armed to serve as a fortress.

-1870 (Crown Regains Castle)

The crown took ownership of Portland Castle. The Castle then became the residence of officers in charge of Verne Citadel.

-1914 to 1945

During the First and Second World Wars, Portland Castle served as an office for naval officers. It was also an accommodation facility and ammunition store. Moreover, it was a seaplane base in World War I and where the D-Day landings of World War II were planned.

-1949

The War Office withdrew its control over Portland Castle, and the state opened it to the public in 1955.

-1999 (Castle Decommissioned)

Portland Castle was decommissioned and fell under the Custody of English Heritage. At the beginning of the 21st century, the Castle had become a major tourist attraction. For instance, in 2010, Portland Castle had received over 22,000 tourists.

Portland Castle Occupants

Portland Castle is one of the English forts that were established and owned by royalty. However, in its existence, most of the Castle’s occupants were military officers.

Here are some notable occupants of Portland Castle:

  • Thomas Mervin, the officer in charge of the gunners
  • Captain Charles Manning, the builder of Portland Breakwater
  • Senior officers in charge of Verne Citadel
  • Naval officers during the First and Second World Wars

Images of Portland Castle

Portland Castle Portland Castle
Portland Castle

Images Supplied and licensed from Shutterstock Standard Licence Package

Portland Castle Facts

Portland Castle is a Grade I building and a scheduled monument under the protection of the law. It is among the outstanding coastal forts and one of the most preserved castles in England. Moreover, it is also one of the smallest castles, as it was intentionally built that way to serve its purpose.

The small size, several gun platforms, and the construction materials made Portland Castle a defensive centre with a reduced target area. Hence, the plan was that the English army could fire at the enemies from a compact spot, and the thick walls would serve as substantial protection against attack.

Portland Castle Q&A

What Can I See During My Visit to Portland Castle?

The well-kept Portland Castle is a historical exhibit in itself and also contains several artefacts. Here’s what you can expect to see when you visit the Castle:

  • A two-storey keep (was originally three storeys high)
  • A great octagonal hall containing the barracks has wings that entailed the castle kitchen and gunners’ quarters
  • A furnished Tudor kitchen
  • The Armoury contains several soldier outfits, and armoury
  • The Governor’s House
  • A walled courtyard containing two gun platforms
  • The Captain’s House on the western edge of the courtyard
  • The Gun Room contains cannons from the 18th and 19th centuries
  • Royal arms of King Charles on the southern gateway
  • The Captain’s Tearoom
  • The Governor’s garden, entailing an amphitheatre (200 people capacity) that provides spending coastal views
  • A gift shop selling English Heritage gifts and souvenirs

Are Tour Guides Available at Portland Castle? 

There are no tour guides at Portland Castle. However, visitors have access to a free and detailed virtual tour that provides information about the Castle and its history.

Can I Bring a Picnic to Portland Castle? 

Portland Castle has beautiful grounds and a magnificent garden that are ideal for picnics. The management also allows food from outside. However, catering services are also available on-site in the Captain’s Tea room. Visitors can buy snacks, drinks, soups, or light lunches and enjoy them on the picnic tables across the Castle grounds.

Location of Portland Castle

Portland Castle is located on the island of Portland, in Dorset, UK. The Isle of Portland is a small and unique island on the southern edge of the Jurassic Coast. The island is 6 km (3.72 mi) long and 2.7 km (1.67 mi) wide and is an ideal destination for seaside activities.

Chesil Beach connects the Isle of Portland to the mainland. Also, the A354 road and a bridge on the Fleet Lagoon facilitate movement from the island to the mainland.

The Isle of Portland has several tourist attractions, including Portland Castle, Portland Bill Lighthouse, and Tout Quarry. The Castle is one of the popular destinations, and its mailing address is Portland Castle, Liberty Road, Castletown, Dorset, DT5 1AZ.

Other Places To Visit Near Portland Castle

The Isle of Portland is a haven of outdoor and coastal activities. While visiting Portland Castle, you might as well consider exploring the Isle of Portland and tourist attractions around the island.

Here are other places to visit near Portland Castle:

Fancy’s Farm

Situated at Dorset in the Isle of Portland, Fancy’s Farm is a serene tourist destination. The farm is home to domestic animals, including the rare Portland sheep, donkeys, wallabies, and shire horses. The animals are very friendly and enjoy petting.

Admission to Fancy’s Farm is free of charge. However, if you wish to feed the animals, you have to buy a feed cup for £1 each. The farm is also open daily (except on Christmas Day) from 1.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m.

Enjoy a fun-filled farm visit with your kids as the pet and feed the animals. You can also let them play in the playing room or outside with toys. Moreover, you can purchase farm produce and refreshments from the farm’s shop.

Chesil Beach

One of the magnificent natural beaches in England, Chesil Beach is an 18 miles (28.96 km) long beach in Dorset. The beach is one of Britain’s largest pebble and shingle (gravel) beach structures, or “tombolo.”

One can see the full length of Chesil Beach from the Heights Hotel on a clear day. The beach is a perfect place for couples and family getaways as it creates a relaxed and peaceful atmosphere.

Chesil Beach is an essential component of the Isle of Portland as it connects it to the mainland. It joins Portland to Abbotsbury and West Bay (northwest side).

Portland Bill Lighthouse

Dating back to 1906, Portland Bill Lighthouse is a red and white tower overlooking the Isle of Portland. The current Lighthouse stands on a site where several lighthouses have been for around 300 years.

For 114 years, Portland Bill Lighthouse has been guiding and warning vessels about potential danger. Following its establishment in 1906, the lighthouse first flashed its lights every twenty minutes over a range of 25 nautical miles (46.3 km).

Following a refurbishment and a charity grant in 2015, Portland Bill Lighthouse now entails an attractive Visitor Centre and a private museum. The centre contains detailed displays at the base. Moreover, visitors enjoy a spectacular view of the surrounding coastland after climbing 153 stairs to the top of the lighthouse.

In 2019, the lighthouse underwent upgrading, with the optic being removed from the lantern room and reinstalled in the tower base.

Tout Quarry Sculpture Park and Nature Reserve

Though an abandoned stone quarry, Tout Quarry is now a nature reserve and sculpture park. Now under Dorset Wildlife Trust and Portland Sculpture and Quarry Trust, the quarry entails limestone remains carved into various sculptures.

Through invasive scrub management, Tout Quarry has gradually regenerated naturally. For instance, several local plants and flowers have grown after the removal of cotoneaster.

Tout Quarry Sculpture Park and Nature Reserve are ideal destinations for family, group, and school tours. It is an educational and creative centre that informs visitors about wildlife and stone heritage.

Portland Museum

Situated in two 17th-century cottages, Portland Museum is a historical hub in Dorset. The museum is home to a vast array of artefacts and historical items. These include World War II bombs, dinosaur bones, stone sarcophagi (coffins), and personal items belonging to pirates, itinerant workers, convicts, and artists.

Portland Museum also entails a Victorian Corner where visitors have the chance of viewing an outstanding wedding dress of a local bride and house items. The museum also entails Thomas Hardy’s works, a novelist who used the cottages as a setting for one of his novels.

Verne High Angle Battery

A former 19th-century gun battery, Verne High Angle Battery, is located near Verne Citadel in the Isle of Portland, Dorset. The site is a Grade II listed building and a scheduled monument attracting many tourists.

Verne High Angle Battery also houses some tunnels, locally referred to as the “Ghost Tunnels.” Information guides are also available on-site, and they provide details about the battery’s history. Visitors also enjoy great views of the surrounding areas from the top of the Verne High Angle Battery.

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