The Keppel's Head was no doubt named after an Admiral Keppel (1725-1786), who had sailed around the world.
The Keppel's Head was one of the seventeen inns on The Hard in the 18th Century, opening in 1779 with a Mrs Gauntlett as landlord.
The Keppel's Head was familiarly known as "The Nut" and seems to have been a favourite haunt of the Sub Lieutenants studying at the Naval Education College in the dockyard. The tavern had a well-known waiter called William, and he earned a reputation for being able to predict what the individual young officers would attain in their forthcoming examinations. His success was quite uncanny, and one may assume that he acquired his skill through studying human nature, for a lot could be learnt through listening to the young wags whilst they "downed" their brandy and sodas.
In April 1803 the inn was totally destroyed by fire, a public donation was started for this popular and historic building. A sum of £400 was soon raised, which was no mean sum in those days.
In 1819 the Keppel's Head was a stop for the famous "Rocket" coach. During World War 2 the inn was again damaged by fire during an air raid in 1941.
There has been some friendly rivalry between The Sally Port Hotel and The Keppel's Head Hotel. Visitors staying in both hotels have felt a presence in both hotels. Supposedly the presence is of Buster Crabb who disappeared mysteriously in 1956 after diving under a Soviet ship moored in the harbour
Strangely that day's page has been torn out of the registers of both hotels. It is not known which hotel he stayed in the night before he disappeared.
Welcome to the Official Keppel's Head Hotel Website
A historic hotel that has recently undergone extensive refurbishment, the Keppel's Head is ideally located for visits to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, Gunwharf Quays and the Spinnaker Tower. The hotel was originally built in 1779 and, though it's been recently renovated, many of its amazing original features have been kept intact. Its modernisation work emphasised these features whilst keeping within the hotel's charm. Keppel's Head is ideally located between the old and the new, with Gunwharf Quays and the Spinnaker Tower on one side, and the Historic Dockyard just the other. Both are mere steps away from the hotel's front door. The hotel's name comes from Admiral Augustus Keppel (25 April 1725 – 2 October 1786), who was a Royal Navy officer and politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1755 to 1782. Admiral Keppel saw action in command of various ships, including the fourth-rate Maidstone, during the war of the Austrian Succession. He went on to serve as Commodore on the North American Station and then Commander-in-Chief, Jamaica Station during the Seven Years' War. After that, he served as Senior Naval Lord and then Commander-in-Chief of the Channel Fleet. The name of the hotel would have therefore been somewhat topical at the time, being built in 1779 after a fire destroyed several properties in the immediate area. Keppel was a popular man and several inns used his image on their sign. However, few have survived with this name for as long as the hotel. Throughout its life, the Keppel’s Head has been popular with naval men, even to the extent that when there was another fire in 1803, officers and midshipmen paid for its reconstruction. Today the hotel is also home to the Captain's Table restaurant, serving lunch and dinner menus to staying guests and visitors alike.