Living in Portsmouth
History and Culture
Portsmouth is rich in history and culture. With over a dozen museums, two cathedrals and a range of attractions and activities Portsmouth offers plenty to inspire and entertain you. The Visit Portsmouth website provides more detail of what's happening in the city right now.
Portsmouth Historic Dockyard
There is something here for everyone. From family fun exploring real ships and submarines on a day out to visiting HMS Warrior or Nelson’s flagship, HMS Victory. There are awe-inspiring collections inside our museums (such as , to leisure and pleasure activities, to Experience a dockyard and get close to modern Royal Navy ships on the water with our Harbour Tour or feed your passion in our museums, exhibitions and galleries.
The Mary Rose retells the Tudor story through ship’s artefacts and interactive displays inside a purpose-built museum which is located in Portsmouth Dockyard. Nine galleries offer views of the ship, opportunities to take photos from the top deck and hands-on displays which detail Tudor technology and ingenuity. After 30 years of preservation the Mary Rose ship can now be seen from all angles like never before.
D-Day Story, Portsmouth
The D-Day Story is the only museum in the UK dedicated to the Allied Invasion in June 1944. It tells the unique personal stories behind this epic event. The museum provides an engaging insight into the lives of those who took part in D-Day, whether they were individuals on the shore in Portsmouth, or those who went over to Normandy. Told through the personal accounts of people who were there and brought to life through stunning audio-visual presentations alongside iconic objects from the museum’s collection; this is the story of D-Day. Portsmouth was the national focus for the 75th anniversary D-Day celebrations in 2019.
Built in 1544, Southsea Castle was part of a series of fortifications constructed by King Henry VIII around England's coasts to protect the country from invaders. Barely had the work been completed when Henry VIII stood inside only to watch his flagship, the Mary Rose, tragically sink at the Battle of the Solent against the French in July 1545. Over the centuries, Southsea Castle's defences were strengthened so that it could continue to protect Portsmouth. In the 19th century a tunnel was built to defend the castle moat. Visitors can still enter the tunnel and see how the castle would have been defended against invaders. Artillery, gun platforms and panoramic views from the top of the keep overlook the Isle of Wight and the Solent.
Charles Dickens Birthplace
Charles Dickens is, of course, a famous author of well-known classics such as Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities and A Christmas Carol. He was born in Portsmouth, on 7th February 1812, when Britain's Navy was still at war with Napoleonic France. Charles's father, John Dickens, a clerk in the Navy Pay Office, had brought his young bride Elizabeth down to Portsmouth in the summer of 1809, renting the house as the first home of their married life. The museum houses furniture, ceramics, glass, household objects and decorations faithfully re-created the Regency style which Charles's parents would have favoured, although their actual possessions have long since been dispersed. The museum has recently been awarded national accreditation status by Arts Council England.
Other Historic and Cultural Attractions
St John's R.C. Cathedral
St Thomas' Anglican Cathedral
The Hotwalls Studios
Situated in Old Portsmouth this is a thriving arts hub. The arches at Point Battery have been transformed into sleek and modern studios with open access to visitors to the city's up-and-coming makers, designers and artists.
The Aspex Gallery
Located in Gunwharf Quays, it offers an outstanding exhibition programme featuring works by contemporary artists from around the world.
Portsmouth Museum Art Gallery
This fine and decorative art gallery has changing displays mixing paintings, prints, sculptures, ceramics, furniture, glass and textiles from over 500 years of artistic creation.