Portchester Castle is a remarkable well preserved castle, in the care of English Heritage. Within the nine acre site, there is also the 12th century St. Mary’s Church, which is the only surviving building of an Augustinian monastery, but is not in the care of English Heritage. The graveyard contains several significant graves. William Lionel Wyllie RA, the maritime artist who died in 1931 and his wife, Marian Amy, are buried here. Thomas Goble RN was the last Secretary to Lord Nelson on HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. His wife, Mary Eliza, is buried with him.
The Castle we see today, is unusual. The most prominent building is the Keep, which is more than 100 feet high. Visitors may climb the stone spiral staircase to the roof, where spectacular views over the Inner and Outer Baileys of the Castle, as well as Portsmouth Harbour and Gunwharf Quays, can be enjoyed.
The medieval Castle is set within the walls of a Roman Fort, which are the most complete in Europe and stand almost to their full height for their entire length. The Roman Fort had two main gates set midway along each wall. Landgate is actually a medieval reconstruction of the original Roman entrance. The Roman gatehouse was rectangular, with a central gate passage, which stood well back from the line of the wall. The replacement square tower stands in front of the site of the original Roman structure. The other Roman entrance, Watergate, is a two storey rectangular tower, with a lodging chamber on the upper floor. The Roman entrance of Watergate was rebuilt, probably between 1321 and 1325. The wall along this side of the Fort and Watergate, was damaged by the sea and repaired in 1369. The repair included the tower being extended beyond the Roman Wall, which had to be closed off by a portcullis.
After the Norman Conquest in 1066, the Castle was built within the defensive Roman Walls. The remains of the Royal Palace, built in the 1390s for Richard II, can also be seen. It was occupied by royalty until the 17th century and visited by Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn in October 1535. It was used as a prisoner of war camp during the Napoleonic Wars until 1814.