Portchester Castle remains in the ownership of the Thistlethwayte family, however, Stewardship was passed to the English Heritage in 1984 and today the castle is open as a tourist attraction and a common ground for local residents.
The Castle is a well-preserved example of a mainly Roman fortification, which lies on the northern shore of Portsmouth Harbour, approximately 6 miles North West of Portsmouth city itself on the southern English coast. Though in modern times this is a relatively urban area, the fortification is the oldest building in the region, and formed the traditional hub around which the village of Portchester and surrounding area were built.
The castle in its most recent form consists of an outer bailey with gates and bastions, and an inner bailey with a moat and gatehouse, palace, tower and keep. The site was originally a simple Roman fortification, though the castle was added to in phases during the Saxon and Medieval periods, and also in the seventeenth century. The original buildings have been extended many times to provide the castle that we see today.
The castle was initially constructed for defence purposes, however it has been used for many different purposes in its 1700-year history. It has been suggested that the castle was never “entirely abandoned after the collapse of the Roman Empire” (Goodall, 2006, p.29), though this suggests that there was a significant decline in the use of the castle as a fortification during this time. The castle was used again as a fortification by the Normans, and in later periods as a royal residence, and a prison after 1665.