Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Southsea Castle (Southsea)

Southsea Castle is an impressive structure on the coast at the Hampshire seaside resort of Southsea.

It is situated at the Southernmost point of Portsea Island, looking across Spithead to the Isle of Wight.

The castle was built by Henry VIII between 1543 and 1544 as one of his ring of fortifications around the Southeast to defend England from possible invasion by the French. This one was specifically to defend the major port of Portsmouth.

The design is unusual, comprising a square keep wihin a diamond. There are tunnels within the wall to give the defenders easy access around the castle.

It was from Southsea Castle that Henry watched in horror as his beloved ship the Mary Rose sank with much loss of life.

During the Civil War, Southsea Castle was held for the King by Captain Challoner, but the garrison was surpised at night by an attack by Colonel Newton of Southwick, and surrendered without a shot being fired.

In the 18th century, hot embers from a fire dropped into the powder room, causing an explosion which killed seventeen people.

The castle was strengthened and enlarged in 1814 by Major General Fisher of the Royal Engineers. It was further strengthened in 1850, as were Portsmouth`s defences, to combat possible attack by Napoleon III.

Having been garrisoned during both World Wars, the castle was sold to Portsmouth Corporation in 1960 and opened to the public in 1964.

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