A Brief History of Portchester Castle

Jaybex By Jaybex, 19th Jan 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>Europe>England>Hampshire, Dorset & Wiltshire

A brief History Of Portchester Castle in Hampshire, United Kingdom

Portchester Castle

Portchester Castle lies at the Northern end of Portsmouth harbour and the area the castle stands has had some kind of fortification since roughly 280 C.E. when it was built as a part of a network of forts to combat barbarian pirates who had been invading the coast on both sides of the Channel. The durability of the Roman building is still, evident today as part of the outer walls retain the original Roman brickwork one of the best examples of a Roman structure in Northern Europe. There are many items housed in the museum within the Keep dating back to this period.
Throughout its history Portchester Castle was used as a place to prepare for and launch campaigns in France. King John used the castle in an unsuccessful attempt to regain land lost in Normandy to Phillip Augustus in 1204. In 1216 Prince Louis invaded England and Portchester was briefly surrendered to the Prince. In 1217 Johns successor Henry III reclaimed the castle.

The versatility of Portchester Castle

Throughout its history the castle has been used for a variety of purposes, in 1563 it was a military hospital to treat the wounded from the campaigns in France and by the eighteenth century was used to contain prisoners of war during the Napoleonic era, accounts suggest that there was overcrowding inside the prison. Graffiti etched into the walls around the keep is still visible from this time.
Henry the second also found use for the castle as a prison for more esteemed captives, the Earl of Leicester and his wife were detained at the castle around 1174 after being implicated in a plot involving Henry's own sons.
Portchester Castle was also used by English Kings for Recreation; King John often frequented the castle for the hunting opportunities in the Forest of Bere. It was also probably used for recreation for the visit of King Henry VIII and Queen Anne Boleyn in 1535. This also marked the first time in over a century that the reigning monarch had visited the Castle in over a century.

Plot and Execution

A plot to overthow King Henry V was uncovered possibly within the walls of the castle. The three protagonists the Earl of Cambridge, Henry Lord Scrope and Sir Thomas Grey were taken to nearby Southampton and executed for their part in the plot to displace Henry from the throne while he was on campaign in France. This event is portrayed in William Shakespeare’s play Henry V.

The Afterlife of Portchester Castle

The castle enjoyed discontinuous relevance throughout history and periods of use were often followed by periods of decline and ruin. Portchester Castle is now managed by English Heritage and is a great value day out for the family offering an educational day out or just a nice place for a Picnic and a stroll,

If you enjoyed this article please click the link for A Brief History of Corfe Castle


Castle, Hampshire, Henry Ii, Henry Iii, Henry Viii, Heritage English Heritage, Heritage Park, Heritage Preservation, Heritage Sites, Holiday, John, King, Portcherster, Portcullis, Queen, Richard, Tourism, Vacation

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author avatar Jaybex
Married father of three beautiful children, studying Classics with the O.U. and help my wife run a small business. Writing mostly about history and heritage.

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