Destination UK

Poppies: Wave at Fort Nelson and the Royal Armouries

Posted on
June 7, 2018

Did someone say “FREE day out”?
We love exploring museums with the kids as it gives them a real insight into life gone by or an interest in science and they are even better when they are free.
Fort Nelson is a 19th Century Fort which looks over the city of Portsmouth and the Solent and displays a number of significant pieces of artillery and artillery related artefacts through the ages.
Fort Nelson
There are over 700 items of artillery from many countries which span over 600 years, many of which are brought to life whilst sensitively telling the unique stories behind them.
Fort Nelson Large Gun
But that’s not all, there are 19 acres of ramparts, outer fortifications, secret underground tunnels, and ammunition bunkers to explore in this fully restored Victorian fort which offer spectacular views over the countryside surrounding it.
Fort Nelson is actually part of a large ring of forts built to defend the naval base of Portsmouth and the museum itself explains how and why the Fort was built. Isaac was fascinated by all the materials used and spent ages investigating all the displays.
Building Materials
The museum is very fact based and the displays do require some reading, however, there are some screens dotted around showing some films and other displays set up for the kids to play. Isaac and Eliza particularly enjoyed comparing an old battle field hospital with a more modern one that was introduced by Florence Nightingale.
Hospital Fort Nelson
Of course, there is a lot of artillery to see, including a section of the Babylon Gun, which was commissioned by Saddam Hussein and would have a barrel 156 meters long with a one meter bore and was expected to achieve a range of 750 km!!
Babylon Gun
Some of the older artillery is displayed within the walls of the base itself…….
…..whereas some of the larger, more modern pieces were displayed in a large purpose-built building in the central courtyard.
Royal Armouries
By far the kids favourite part of our visit had to be exploring the vast tunnel system that sits under the Fort, which was a welcome relief from the warm sunshine.
Tunnels Fort Nelson
We were there to see the Poppies on Tour, part of the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red which was installed at the Tower of London in 2014 and has been created to mark the centenary of the outbreak of war. The Wave is an iconic sculpture representing an arch of red poppies suspended on towering stalks which rise from the ramparts.
Poppies The Wave
We made the visit to Fort Nelson on a Sunday and it was understandably busy. You can see the poppies wave clearly once outside, but if you want to get up close and walk under it, you have to join a managed queue, which took us about half an hour.
The Wave
Our visit was at the tail end of half term so I imagine it will be a lot quieter during week days.
Poppies Wave
Having a queue system worked well, as it gave everyone the chance to get their photo’s without other families getting in the way and the kids made their own entertainment by climbing the ramparts and examining the cannons as we waited.
The wave of poppies is an awe-inspiring sight and breathtaking from every angle. There is a reflection room provided for those that want to take a moment with their thoughts too, which is a lovely touch.
Although you are not allowed to touch the display, there is a poppy at the end of the trail that you can touch and hold, so you can see how it was made.
Kids Poppies
If you want to see the Poppies on Tour: Wave at Fort Nelson, it will be there until the 24th June 2018. Entry is free, but it does cost £3 to park.
Don’t worry if you don’t get to see the display in Portsmouth, the tour continues all over the country, ending up at the Imperial War Museum in November. Find destinations and dates at:

  1. Reply

    Treasure Every Moment

    June 7, 2018

    Wow the poppies are simply breathtaking! We saw a poppy display at Lincoln castle and it was so moving to see such an incredible piece of art in memory of others 🙂

  2. Reply


    June 7, 2018

    What a great day out – full of history and with such a good important message to remember. Lovely for the children to too think about the war and the significance of poppies. Great pics, looks like lots of fun!

  3. Reply

    Natasha Mairs

    June 7, 2018

    It looks like a great place to visit. I think I would like the underground tunnels the most and so would my kids

  4. Reply

    Yeah Lifestyle

    June 7, 2018

    Ohh loving everything about Fort Nelson especially the museum photos and how you kids are so involved in the tour! The photos of the wave of poppies looks so beautiful as well.

  5. Reply

    Sarah Bailey

    June 7, 2018

    Wow what an amazing sounding display of poppies, the royal armouries sounds like an amazing place to go and visit. I might have to see if we can go at some point this year.

  6. Reply

    Cath - BattleMum

    June 7, 2018

    That’s an amazing piece of work. I remember seeing the pictures of it at the Tower of London. The Fort sounds like a fascinating place to visit and I hope we get a chance one day!

  7. Reply


    June 7, 2018

    We love days out like this , especially educational ones .

  8. Reply

    Rhian Westbury

    June 8, 2018

    Wow that poppies installation looks amazing, I saw them at the tower of london and they looked amazing x

  9. Reply


    June 8, 2018

    What an extraordinary exhibition to go see! I’d love to take my kids there, so much history. It must have been quite moving at times.

  10. Reply

    The London Mum

    June 8, 2018

    What a great day out!! Those tunnels sound awesome and of course I love the poppy display!

  11. Reply


    June 8, 2018

    Wow, the size of some of those guns! It’s great that the kids can interact with things, I think that’s definitely the way forward when it comes to learning and having fun at the same time. This is quite near us, my dad went a few weeks ago but we haven’t been yet ourselves. Maybe I should try and get down there before I’m too pregnant to move!

  12. Reply

    Alison Rost

    June 8, 2018

    That is amazing and a great place for families to visit especially since it’s educational as well. It would be nice to see the display if you’re near the area! It’s a must-see!

  13. Reply

    Fashion and Style Police

    June 9, 2018

    I like the sound of a free day out. Looks like you all had a great time.

  14. Reply

    Alex Gladwin

    June 9, 2018

    I bet this was such an interesting day out for you all. I would have found the tunnel really exciting too! The poppy display looks beautiful. x

  15. Reply


    June 9, 2018

    Wow, what an amazing day out for the family – that poppy display is stunning.

  16. Reply

    Bryanna Skye

    June 9, 2018

    sounds very educational which is always good for a day out! the poppy wave is gorgeous

  17. Reply


    June 10, 2018

    This sounds like a great educational day out for the kids. It’s handy that entry is free. Parking isn’t expensive so it’s worth going to see. Love the poppy display it looks so pretty.

  18. Reply

    Rebecca | AAUBlog

    June 10, 2018

    what a beautiful spot! I remember going to the Tower of London ones when that was displayed.

  19. Reply


    June 11, 2018

    This looks like such an amazing experience! So much history and so much to learn and take in.

  20. Reply

    Kaz | Ickle Pickles Life and Travels

    June 11, 2018

    What a fantastic day out – and the wave of poppies looks spectacular. Kaz

  21. Reply


    June 11, 2018

    This looks like a super neat place to explore. It certainly sounds likes you all enjoyed it.

  22. Reply


    June 12, 2018

    Wow this looks like such a great family trip! That poppy display is truly breathtaking as well!

  23. Reply


    June 14, 2018

    You can’t beat a free day out especially one that is so educational! The display of the poppies is just beautiful.

  24. Reply

    Ashleigh Dougherty

    June 15, 2018

    I love days out like this and exploring history. Will have to visit someday.

  25. Reply


    June 16, 2018

    What an incredible place to visit and you can’t help but love how those poppies are arranged!

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Are we nearly there yet? is a new online blog run by me, Kara Guppy, and is named as such thanks to my daughter Eliza who always asks that very question when we are less than 5 minutes up the road heading off on our adventures. You may know me from my other family blog