Monday, 20 July 2015

I have been to ... Walmer Castle, Kent

In late June Sue and I visited Walmer Castle. It is one of a number of such castles that were built for Henry VIII. It was designed to be an artillery fort and formed part of a chain of coastal defences along the south coast of Kent. The castle was built between 1539 and 1540, and is one of three similar castles built in the area. (The other two are at Deal and Sandown.)

The design of the castle is sometimes referred to as looking like a Tudor Rose. It has a central round tower or keep which is surrounded by an open courtyard that is protected by a concentric wall. Four, squat, semi-circular bastions project out from the wall, the northernmost of which forms the castle’s gatehouse. The three other bastions were originally designed so that cannons could be placed both inside and on top of the bastions. This allowed the castle to be armed with a total of thirty nine cannons. A gallery with firing loops was constructed at basement level around the castle so that defenders could fire at any attackers who managed to get into the moat.


The defences of Walmer Castle were not tested until the English Civil War when – in 1648 – it was besieged by Parliamentary troops led by Colonel Rich troops. The castle’s defenders held out for three weeks before they surrendered. (Deal and Sandown Castles were also besieged at the same time, and did not surrender for three months.)

After the Restoration Walmer Castle reverted to being part of Britain’s poorly maintained coastal defence system, but in 1708 it took on a new role. It became the residence of the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. This was an honorary position bestowed on someone who had given distinguished service to the state, and since then it has been held by:
  • William Pitt the Younger
  • The Duke of Wellington
  • Sir Winston Churchill
  • Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother
The present Lord Warden is Admiral Lord Boyce.

During our visit we were not allowed to take photographs inside the castle, so the following images only show its exterior.

The main entrance to Walmer Castle


A section of the castle's moat


The Western Bastion
The Western Bastion gives access from the castle into its gardens. The original casemates are still visible although they have now been glazed.


The doorway into the Western Bastion
The casemate above the entrance is very clear in this photograph.


A panoramic view from the Eastern Bastion
This photograph give some idea of the area of the coast that the guns at Walmer Castle would have covered.


Some of the cannons currently on display on top of the bastions




Walmer Castle as seen from its informal garden


Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother's formal garden
This garden was designed and created during Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother's tenure as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports.


4 comments:

  1. Looks like a lovely spot to walk around.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Conrad Kinch,

    You should go there if you ever get the chance.

    All the best,

    Bob

    ReplyDelete
  3. Prufrock,

    It was my pleasure to do so.

    All the best,

    Bob

    ReplyDelete