Portsmouth’s museums are gearing up for a busy spring. Two of the city’s best-loved venues ̶̵ Charles Dickens’ Birthplace Museum and Southsea Castle ̶̵ are fully open to visitors again. And the popular café at Portsmouth Museum and Art Gallery has re-opened too.
Since the pandemic began, visitors to Charles Dickens’ Birthplace Museum have had to reserve places, and only small groups could attend. But from 21 May, people can now attend freely without booking a visit.
The unique museum will be open on selected Saturdays or Sundays between 10 am and 5 pm (the last admission is 4 pm), without needing to reserve a place. Details of more opening dates will be at charlesdickensbirthplace.co.uk.
The building, at 393 Old Commercial Road, Portsmouth, is the house where Dickens was born on 7 February 1812. Furniture, ceramics, glass, household objects and decorations have been faithfully recreated in the Regency style. Among the museum’s treasures is the couch on which Dickens died at his house in Kent, his snuff box, his inkwell and his paper-knife.
Admission is free for Portsmouth residents. Otherwise, adult entry is £4.50, with concessions available.
At Southsea Castle, the start of the season means the site is fully open, with visitors now able to enjoy the keep and the ramparts and the courtyard with its popular restaurant.
The castle was built in 1544 by Henry VIII, who was there when his much-loved flagship, the Mary Rose, sank during battle. The building served as an active military base for over 400 years. Visitors can enjoy panoramic views from the top of the keep to the Isle of Wight and Solent before enjoying a bite to eat in The Courtyard restaurant.
The castle is free to visit and is open Tuesday to Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm.
Meanwhile, at Portsmouth Museum and Art Gallery, the café is now open following an extended closure because of the pandemic. It offers hot and cold drinks plus a range of sandwiches, paninis and cakes to eat inside or in the museum’s extensive gardens.
The museum is open Tuesday-Sunday, 10 am to 5.30 pm. Entry is free.
For more information on Portsmouth’s museums, including the D-Day Story and Cumberland House Natural History Museum, go to www.portsmouthmuseums.co.uk.