local haunts of portsmouth

To enhance our website and provide Visitors with local knowledge about Portsmouth and Southsea, we are featuring 'Local Haunts of Portsmouth'.
Here you'll find a brief history and photo(s) of some of the Cities hidden treasures, haunted inns, Nelsons signature engraved on glass, the site of a brutal murder or the pub where the landlady was responsible for 1,000s of sailors (unwittingly) joining the Navy !

If you would like to feature your attraction, hotel or pub please email words and a photo to and we will be happy to include it on our website.

Local Haunts, bringing the past to life.



southsea model village


The Southsea Model Village is on the site of the 19th century Lumps Fort on the sea front, and can be found between Canoe Lake and the Rose Gardens. It has a miniature railway in the tiny village and is set in lovely, colourful gardens. There's a range of refreshments available and from the castle at the top of the hill you can see the Isle of Wight on a clear day .
Visit the Model Village Website



portsmouth natural history museum


Portsmouth is a very special place for wildlife in Britain, it has many different habitats in a very small area and at Portsmouth Natural History Museum you can explore them all.

The museum tells the story of the wild things of the riverbank, marshes, woods and urban areas of Portsmouth. Have a look for the heron stalking its prey and the brent geese coming into land after their 3000 km flight from the arctic. You can also learn about Portsmouth's geology and take a look at the Victorian Museum exhibition. The displays are designed to allow visitors a view of the natural world as they could never see it in real life - up close and in depth.

Portsmouth Natural History Museum also houses an aquarium and butterfly house. Although the butterflies only fly in the summer, during the winter you can hunt for caterpillars under the leaves and spot the mirror carp among the weeds.


charles dickens' birthplace museum


The famous writer Charles Dickens was born in this modest house in Portsmouth, England in 1812. The house has miraculously survived and is now preserved as a museum furnished in the style of 1809 which is when John and Elizabeth Dickens set up the first home of their married life there.

charesles dickens

southsea castle


Built in 1544, the Castle was part of a series of fortifications constructed by Henry VIII around England's coasts to protect the country from invaders. Barely was the work completed when Henry VIII's flagship, the Mary Rose, tragically sank in front of the Castle. During the English Civil War, nearly a century later, the Castle was captured for the only time in its history, by Parliamentarian forces.

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.

The Castle has had many other uses besides defence. For a while it was a military prison. A lighthouse was built in the 1820s, and is still in use by shipping today. In 1960 the Castle left military service. It was acquired by Portsmouth City Council, which restored the Castle to its 19th century appearance.

southsea castle picture

d-day museum and overlord embroidery


The D-Day Museum was opened in 1984 to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of D-Day. Its centrepiece is the magnificent Overlord Embroidery commissioned by Lord Dulverton of Batsford (1915-92) as a tribute to the sacrifice and heroism of those men and women who took part in Operation Overlord. The Museum was extended in 1994 for D-Day 50. The Dulverton Wing is a multi-purpose space which is used amongst other things for lectures, exhibitions and work with schools.

The Overlord Embroidery was conceived by Lord Dulverton as a modern counterpart to the Bayeux Tapestry. Designed by artist Sandra Lawrence, the Embroidery took five years to complete.?

It measures 272 feet and is the largest work of its kind in the world. As you look at the stirring scenes, an accompanying multi-language Soundalive commentary brings the events to life.

The Museum's unique and dramatic film show, which includes original, historic footage and archive film, is an equally moving experience.

d-day museum

south parade pier


Since its opening in 1879, South Parade Pier has established itself as one of Portsmouth best loved landmarks. It has been involved in many historical events, most poignantly in 1944 when the pier was used as a preparation area for the D-Day Landings. The pier has also been ravaged by fire on many occasions, but most unforgettably in 1974 during the filming of Ken Russell's "Tommy" when it was reduced to a burnt shell.The pier of 2006 is a traditional seaside attraction with amusement arcade and children's funfair in the summer, and also provides a variety of venues for events including weddings, dinners, live music and family parties.

soutparade pier

spit bank fort


Rising out of the Solent, one mile off shore, like a silent sentinel, Spitbank Fort was constructed between 1861 and 1878 as one of Palmerston’s ‘Follies’, a series of land and sea-based forts designed to repel French invaders during the Napoleonic Wars. 

Spitbank Fort was the last of four, fully armoured forts to be constructed to defend the Solent yet, ironically, by the time they were completed, the risk of invasion had passed.  The forts were made ready for possible action during the first and second world wars, although they were never actually needed.  Gradually, they fell into disrepair.  Horse Sand Fort, was retained by the MOD but the remaining three - including Spitbank - were sold as private enterprises.

spit bank fort

the pembroke


The Pembroke, at the corner of Penny Street and Pembroke Road, is one of the oldest pubs in Portsmouth.  Reputedly haunted by a ‘woman in white’, the name ‘The Pembroke’ was first used in the mid 18th Century when the ancient inn, originally known as the Blue Posts, was acquired by local brewer William Deacon

pempbrook pub

the american bar


A public house has been on this site for at least 200 years with several name changes.  In 1784 it was listed as the Shipwright’s Arms, and by 1`859 it had become the Forfarshire Tavern but by 1887 it had become The American Hotel – but no one knows why.  This pub actually became one of the most badly damaged buildings in the area during the WWII.

american bar

the bridge tavern


Once there used to be no less than eight pubs in the Camber area, but the Bridge tavern – dating back to the 17th century - is the only survivor.  Its name comes from a swing bridge that was built between the inner and outer camber in the 19th century and existed until 1927.

bridge tavern

the spice island inn


This actually incorporates three famous former inns – The Coal Exchange which was on the Broad street site from 1718 and was later named the Jolly Sailor. Coal was unloaded here from the docks and smugglers haggled over prices. Adjacent was the Union Tavern, later called the Union Jack and later still named the Lone Yachtsman in tribute to Sir Alec Rose.  The Third was the East and West.

spice island

the still and west


Built around 1700, it was originally named the Still - which comes from ‘whistling The Still’ with a bosun’s pipe.  In 1882, the daughter of the manager married the son of the Landlord at the East and West, and with the joining of the two families, the pub then become known as the Still and West.

still and west

the sally port inn


A Sally Port Inn stood on this site from 1615, and by Nelson’s time it was owned by the Licensed Victuallers for the Royal Navy.  Today’s building was created from a war-damaged building, with oak timbers from old ships were used to create the frontage.  The 14-room hotel has had its share of fame and infamy; it was where naval spy Buster Crabb stayed before his suspicious death.


highland road cemetery


No longer used, this famous cemetery is the resting place of many Portsmouth dignitaries and influential people including Monsignor Vertue, the first Roman Catholic Bishop of Portsmouth,  holders of the Victoria Cross, and several Dickens connections including the Author’s first love, Maria Beadnell, who became the model for Dora in David Copperfield.


fort cumberland


Originally a star-shaped fort built by the Duke of Cumberland, the present building was constructed in 1786 by the Duke of Richmond using convict labour with the purpose of controlling Langstone Harbour.  Today, it is considered the most important surviving fort in Britain and was last used in WWII.

fort c

eastney pump station


The station was built to deal with the sewage of Portsmouth and possible flood waters after the inadequate drainage from sewage pits at Fort Cumberland caused several outbreaks of Cholera.  By 1868 two Clayton Beam engines and pumps were erected followed by gas fired engines driving Tangye pumps in the 1900s, and other engines housed in several buildings alongside a cooling pond.

pump house

the new theatre royal


Originally built in 1800 as a Racquet Hall, it was converted to the New Theatre Royal in 1856, opening in 1856.  After later alterations it was adapted by famous theatre architect Frank Matcham and re-opened in 1900 with the play Magda.  After a spell as a cinema and a wrestling hall, it suffered a fire in 1972 and was then restored by the Theatre Royal Trust.  Director Ken Russell used it for the filming location of his box office hit, The Boyfriend




Tours Available

Walks Available

Tours Available

Tours Available

Walks Available