Portland Castle

School Visits

Portland Castle is situated in a stunning spot overlooking Portland Harbour in Dorset and is one of a number of artillery forts built by King Henry VIII along the south coast of England. The castle was built as a response to the threat of war from France and Spain after 1538 and shows us a great deal about defensive fort design and characteristics.
A visit to this fascinating Castle could support your studies in Tudors, Civil War, castles, Henry VIII, or the Second World.

“Fitted in with everything we are doing on the subject”

Teacher, KS2

Image © Historic England Archive

Curriculum Links

Support your teaching in the classroom by stepping out of it. A visit to Portland Castle will help you bring learning to life, covering multiple topics across the curriculum and key stages.

  • KS1: Local history study
  • KS2: Local history study, studies beyond 1066
  • KS3: Britain 1509 – 1745, World War II

© Historic England Archive

Free Self-Led Visits

Book a free self-led visit to Portland Castle and organise your day to suit your curriculum objectives. Portland Castle is one of the best preserved examples of the series of coastal defences built by Henry VIII in the 16th century. See the Tudor kitchen and step inside the Garrison Hall to come face to face with King Henry himself. Enjoy stunning sea views from the gun platforms and get up close to the powerful cannons.

The site consists of the main keep building and beautiful outdoor areas including an amphitheatre and a herb garden. There is also a small education room available to use during your visit. 

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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 for Covid-19 risk assessments and measures we’ve got in place please visit 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
    • PARKING: There is a large car park adjacent to the site for cars and minibuses only; please collect a parking permit from the shop and display it clearly or there will be a parking charge. Coaches must park in the public car park at Chiswell Beach; there is a parking charge. Accessible parking is available, please contact the site ahead of your visit.
    • TOILETS: Male, female and accessible toilets are located at the back of the Captain’s House.
    • LUNCH: There is no designated lunch space; groups are welcome to eat their lunch anywhere in the grounds. If you have booked the Education room (max 15 students), this space may also be used for lunch. Please note: all rubbish must be taken away with you, there are no bins on site.
    • SHOP: There is a well-stocked shop on site selling souvenirs and site-related merchandise. We ask that you bring in groups of no more than 10 students at a time and supervise your group in the shop at all times.
    • EDUCATION ROOM or BAG STORAGE: There is a small education room (max 15 students) which must be pre-booked. The room can be used for bag storage if booked.
    • ACCESSIBILITY: There is level access to the grounds and herb garden, the Captain’s House (including the Education room) and the lower floor of the castle; access to the upper floor and gun deck of the castle are restricted by stairs. There are handling objects in the Tudor kitchen and Braille plaques available.
    • WET WEATHER: There is some indoor space and the keep may be used for wet weather activities. If you have booked the Education room (max 15 students), this space may also be used for wet weather activities.
  • 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*.

    *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-Friday 10-4pm
    • November-March: No bookings can be taken at the current time

Learning Resources

  • Portland Castle Top Things to See (KS1-2)

    Use this trail to explore Portland Castle's story and discover what it was like to be a soldier stationed here. 

  • Teaching Tudors and Stuarts

    This guide to teaching Tudors and Stuarts includes advice from our educational experts and historians as well as suggested activities to try with your students in the classroom or on a school trip. 

  • A Mini Guide to Castles

    ​Discover how castles developed over time with this short introduction.

  • Why did England have a Civil War?

    Portland Castle changed hands many times during the Civil War. Use our introductory video to find out more about why the conflict happened. 

  • Teaching the 20th Century

    Use historical information, learning activities and tips from our historians, curators and educational experts to support your teaching of 20th century history.

  • 1940s World War II Make Up Tutorial

    Find out more about the importance of makeup to members of the Women's Royal Naval Service (WRNS) stationed at Dover during the Second World War with Makeup Artist Rebecca Butterworth and Fashion Historian Amber Butchart.

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