Prisoner of War Graffiti, Portchester Castle, Portchester, Hampshire
This graffiti was carved by French prisoners of war around the time of the Napoleonic Wars. War had broken out between Britain and Revoloutionary France in 1793. The graffiti is carved into the walls of the staircase between the 3rd floor and the roof of the keep. The place name 'La Rochelle' is visible and all the dates are from the 1790s. Portchester Castle dates back to Roman times and has had a variety of uses over the centuries. In 1632 it was bought from Charles I (r. 1625-49) by a local landowner, Sir William Uvedale. By 1665 it was being used as a prison and housed 500 prisoners from the Second Dutch War (1665-67). In 1794 work began to increase the amount of prisoners the castle could hold. Thirteen new wooded houses were built within the castles walls, they were to house 500 prisoners in each. The keep was also altered to hold 1,000 more men. The hammock hooks left by these alterations can still be seen in the keep. The castle then continued to be used as a prisoner-or-war camp until 1814. This site is now in the care of English Heritage (2012). Find out more.