School Visits

Discovery Visits at Portchester Castle

Sandford Award winner 2023!

Bring Portchester Castle to life and let our experts lead your pupils on an award-winning, hands-on Discovery Visit.

Without exception, the children were engaged and enthused, and the effect of being in costume in a big and impressive historic site could never have been achieved in their classroom.” Sandford Award Assessors Report 2023.

In the Footsteps of Kings

Design & Technology, Drama, Geography, History
KS1, KS2

Take your pupils on a historical journey back in time with our costumed interpreters to explore the history and significance of Portchester Castle. Through storytelling and an interactive tour of the castle, they’ll discover why the castle was built, who lived and worked there, how Richard II and Edward III defended it and how they enjoyed a luxury lifestyle fit for kings!

  • Availability: March: Monday and Friday, April to October: Monday to Friday during term time, November and December: Monday and Friday
  • Session lasts for 1 hour
  • £100 per session
Enquire now

Prisoners at Portchester – A Local History Story

Drama, History

Discover the unique local history story of the French Prisoners of War who were held at Portchester Castle. Pupils will retrace the prisoner’s route as they make their way alongside the castle walls and through the Watergate to view the castle for the first time. They will see through the eyes of the prisoners and imagine the sights, smells and sounds of the castle as they consider how it would feel to be imprisoned there. Pupils will learn why the prisoners were allowed to build a theatre how they entertained themselves, why they created their own theatre, and how their plays and performances connected them to the local community.

  • Availability: March: Monday and Friday, April to October: Monday to Friday during term time
  • Sessions lasts for 1 hour
  • £100 per session
Enquire now

History Around us: The Story of Prisoners at Portchester

Drama, History

Learn about the political and historical importance of Portchester Castle through the lives and plays of the French Prisoners of War who were imprisoned there in 1810. By examining the physical structure of the castle, using source materials and getting involved with practical activities, students will better understand how prisoners came to be held at the castle, what life was like there and immerse themselves in their story at the place it happened. They’ll discover why the theatre was created in the keep, learn about melodrama and Roseliska, the play written by the prisoners. They will even be put through their acting paces! This Discovery Visit is applicable to OCR GCSE Spec B History Around Us and covers multiple criteria including the international significance of the castle and the reasons for the location of the site within its surroundings.

  • Availability: March: Monday and Friday, April to October: Monday to Friday during term time
  • Session lasts for 75 minutes
  • £100 per session
Enquire now

Plan Your Trip

We have a wide range of materials to support your visit and make school trip planning easy. You can find all our site-specific information and tools below, and further information on our what to expect page

Download our free resources to help you make the most out of your visit and create unique learning experiences before, during and after your trip. We also offer free planning visits once you have made a booking, plus a 20% discount on the official English Heritage guidebook for your place of choice.

Once you book your visit you’ll be sent a visit permit, which you’ll need to bring with you on the day.

Visit our bookings page to start planning your trip! 

  • Facilities
    • COURTYARD AND CASTLE GROUNDS: All outdoor areas within the castle walls will be open.
    • KEEP AND INDOOR AREAS: The castle keep and other indoor areas will be open, using a one way system monitored by members of castle staff. The castle keep roof will remain closed.
    • EXHIBITION: The castle's exhibition is open for you to enjoy.
    • PARKING: Free car park, 200m from entrance with 100 parking spaces. Disabled parking is available in the car park. There is space for 3 coaches. The car park is managed by Fareham Borough Council.
    • TOILETS: Unfortunately there are no toilets inside Portchester Castle. Public toilets, including accessible toilets, are available in the car park. These are managed by Fareham Borough Council.
    • BAG STORAGE: Waterproof boxes will be provided for pupils to store their lunch boxes in. 
    • LUNCH: You are welcome to bring a picnic and eat in the Outer Bailey, or there is a dedicated picnic area in the Inner Bailey, with picnic benches. 
    • EDUCATION ROOM: The education room is currently unavailable.

    Site Map

    Portchester Site Map


  • Hazard Information

    A useful tool to help with your risk assessments.

    You must meet the following ratios for leaders to students on the day of your visit when booking, and if your group is forming smaller groups while at the site:

    • Ages 4-5 (UK Reception) 1 leader for every 4 students (1:4)
    • Ages 5-7 (UK Key Stage 1) 1 leader for every 6 students (1:6)
    • Ages 7-11 (UK Key Stage 2) 1 leader for every 10 students (1:10) and
    • Ages 11-18 (UK Key Stages 3, 4, and 5) 1 leader for every 15 students (1:15)
    • For an adult learning group, consisting of individuals all over the age of 18, there are no ratios but there must be an appointed group leader
    • All ratios outlined above apply to home education groups
    • If your group consists of children aged 3 and/or 4, you must also refer to the Early Years and Foundation Stage Statutory Framework which sets out specific legal requirements for minimum ratios for this age group, to include requirements about the qualifications of the leaders
    • SEND groups must meet the minimum ratios above but may bring any additional leaders as required to adequately support their group
  • Education Site Opening Times

    We offer free self-led education visits during school term time*. From November until March we open exclusively for education groups at selected sites when booking an expert-led Discovery Visit. See our education opening times below for individual site information.

    *Free education visits are not offered on UK public holidays or during the operation of additional fee paying public events at English Heritage sites.

    • April-October: Monday-Sunday 10-5pm. Discovery Visits available Monday-Friday
    • November-16 December: Monday and Sunday 10-4pm. Discovery Visits available Monday and Friday
    • 17 December-28 February: Closed
    • March: Monday and Sunday 10-4pm. Discovery Visits available Monday and Friday



Planning Your Visit

Planning your visit couldn’t be easier with the help of our resources. However if you need more details or have specific questions about your trip or our Free Self-Led or Expert Led visits, please get in touch with our Education Booking Team on 0370 333 0606

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