Dover Castle

Monday, 22 November 2021 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Museums, Exhibitions, Palaces, Castles, Manors, Parks
Reading Time:  7 minutes

Dover Castle © Chensiyuan/cc-by-sa-4.0

Dover Castle © Chensiyuan/cc-by-sa-4.0

Dover Castle is a medieval castle in Dover, Kent, England. It was founded in the 11th century and has been described as the “Key to England” due to its defensive significance throughout history. Some sources say it is the largest castle in England, a title also claimed by Windsor Castle. This site may have been fortified with earthworks in the Iron Age or earlier, before the Romans invaded in AD 43. This is suggested on the basis of the unusual pattern of the earthworks which does not seem to be a perfect fit for the medieval castle. Excavations have provided evidence of Iron Age occupation within the locality of the castle, but it is not certain whether this is associated with the hillfort.

Massive rebuilding took place at the end of the 18th century during the Napoleonic Wars. William Twiss, the Commanding Engineer of the Southern District, as part of his brief to improve the town’s defences, completed the remodelling of the outer defences of Dover Castle by adding the huge Horseshoe, Hudson’s, East Arrow and East Demi-Bastions to provide extra gun positions on the eastern side, and constructing the Constable’s Bastion for additional protection on the west. Twiss further strengthened the Spur at the northern end of the castle, adding a redan, or raised the gun platform. By taking the roof off the keep and replacing it with massive brick vaults, he was able to mount heavy artillery on the top. Twiss also constructed Canon’s Gateway to link the defences of the castle with those of the town. With Dover becoming a garrison town, there was a need for barracks and storerooms for the additional troops and their equipment. The solution adopted by Twiss and the Royal Engineers was to create a complex of barracks tunnels about 15 metres below the cliff-top, and the first troops were accommodated in 1803. The windmill on the Mill Tower was demolished during the Anglo-American War of the orders of the Ordnance Board. It was said that the sale of materials from the demolished mill did not cover the cost of the demolition. At the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the tunnels were partly converted and used by the Coast Blockade Service to combat smuggling. This was a short-term endeavour, though, and in 1827 the headquarters were moved closer to shore. The tunnels then remained abandoned for more than a century. Between 1856-58, Anthony Salvin constructed a new officer’s barracks to the south of the castle. Salvin was responsible for the exterior, which he designed in a Tudor Revival style, while the castle’s Clerk of the Works, G. Arnold, was responsible for the interior.

from north © DeFacto/cc-by-sa-4.0 Constable's Tower © Nilfanion/cc-by-sa-4.0 Henry II's Great Tower © DeFacto/cc-by-sa-4.0 Dover Castle © Chensiyuan/cc-by-sa-4.0 © Lieven Smits/cc-by-sa-3.0 from south-east © Neptuul/cc-by-sa-4.0
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Henry II's Great Tower © DeFacto/cc-by-sa-4.0
The outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 saw the tunnels converted first into an air-raid shelter and then later into a military command centre and underground hospital. In May 1940, Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay directed the evacuation of French and British soldiers from Dunkirk, code-named Operation Dynamo, from his headquarters in the cliff tunnels. A military telephone exchange was installed in 1941 and served the underground headquarters. The switchboards were constantly in use and had to have a new tunnel created alongside it to house the batteries and chargers necessary to keep them functioning. A statue of Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay stands outside the tunnels in honour of his work on the Dunkirk evacuation and protecting Dover during the Second World War.

After the war the tunnels were used as a shelter for the Regional Seats of Government in the event of a nuclear attack. This plan was abandoned for various reasons, including the realisation that the chalk of the cliffs would not provide significant protection from radiation, and because of the inconvenient form of the tunnels and their generally poor condition. Tunnel levels are denoted as A – Annexe, B – Bastion, C – Casemate, D – Dumpy and E – Esplanade. Annexe and Casemate levels are open to the public, Bastion is ‘lost’ but investigations continue to locate it and gain access, Dumpy (converted from Second World War used to serve as a Regional Seat of Government in the event of an atomic war) is closed, as its esplanade (last used as an air raid shelter in the Second World War). Between 2007 and 2009, English Heritage spent £2.45 million on recreating the castle’s interior. According to figures released by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, 368,243 people visited Dover Castle in 2019. The Queen’s & Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment Regimental Museum is located in the castle. Dover Castle remains a Scheduled Monument, which means it is a “nationally important” historic building and archaeological site that has been given protection against unauthorised change. It is also a Grade I listed building, and recognised as an internationally important structure. The Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports is officially head of the castle, in his conjoint position of Constable of Dover Castle, and the Deputy Constable has his residence in Constable’s Gate. In October 2021, the castle was one of 142 sites across England to receive part of a £35-million grant from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund.

Read more on VisitBritain.com – Dover Castle, English-Heritage.org.uk – Dover Castle and Wikipedia Dover Castle (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.






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