Views of Portchester Castle, early 1800s
by Captain John Durrant
Portchester Castle is the oldest regular war prison in Britain. First used to house prisoners of war as early as 1306, it was busiest 200 years ago when it housed up to 8,000 French soldiers, captured during the Napoleonic Wars (1793-1814). Examples for the crafts made by the French prisoners can be seen in disaplys on the first floor of the museum (opening April 2006). Artist Captain John Durrant, served with the 2nd West Riding Militia, was stationed at Portchester Castle during the period 1803-1813. Many of his sketches and paintings showing life in the castle are now in the museum collections. The last prisoners of War left the castle in 1815.