Upnor Castle, Kent…

Upnor Castle is an artillery fort located in the village of Upnor in Kent. Constructed between 1559 – 1567, it was constructed to a design by Sir Richard Lee to defend the Royal Navy dockyard at Chatham and ships anchored in the Medway. The castle was constructed on the orders of Elizabeth I (1558 – 1603) and consisted of a main block, water bastion and river frontage.

In 1599 – 1601, the castle was remodelled. Two riverside towers were rebuilt, a gatehouse, moat and curtain wall were added. The castle is constructed of ragstone faced with course ashlar blocks. Some red bricks were also used.

In June 1667, a Dutch squadron under the command of Michiel de Ruyter mounted a raid on the Medway, capturing two ships and burning others at anchor at Chatham. This defeat, was one of the worst in Royal Navy history and showed how inadequate the Medway defences were, including Upnor Castle. Though it should be noted that Upnor Castle had been neglected of investment, but acquitted itself better than some of the other Medway defences.

After the Dutch attack, the castle was retired from service as new and more advanced forts were built to protect the dockyard. Instead the castle was was used as a store and magazine. Works to the castle to make it fit for this purpose were undertaken, including the main building of the castle which had to be heightened and its floors reinforced.

In 1827, the castle ceased being used as a store and magazine, instead it was used as a ordnance laboratory.  Later, in 1891, the castle came under the control of the Admiralty, ending the relationship where the Admiralty had managed the site and the War Office had funded it.

After the First World War (1914 – 1918), the castle became a Royal Naval armaments depot. During this time, weapons and explosives were tested at the castle. From the 1920s onward, the castle was a museum, though during the Second World War (1939 – 1945) the castle was still in use as part of the Magazine Establishment, with the castle being bombed in 1941.

After the war in 1945, the castle was opened to the public as a departmental museum by the Admiralty. The castle was restored at this time.

Today, the castle is managed by Medway Council and is open to the public.

Upnor Castle Gatehouse
Upnor Castle Gatehouse
Upnor Castle Gatehouse
Upnor Castle Gatehouse
Upnor Castle
Upnor Castle
Upnor Castle
Upnor Castle
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Great Yarmouth Castle and Town Wall, Norfolk…

Great Yarmouth Castle was constructed sometime during the medieval period, probably during the 12th Century. It was constructed out of stone and had four turrets and was likely a tower keep.

From the mid 16th Century, the castle was given to the town and was used as a gaol. During this period, it is thought it underwent some repairs on several occasions. By 1620 the castle was being dismantled. First the upper storey was removed, the stone was used in enclosing a gun platform, known as the Mount. In 1621, the rest of the castle was dismantled.

Great Yarmouth Castle is likely to have had a close association with the town’s wall. Though the castle is likely to have predated the construction of the town wall by over a century, the two would have no doubt been crucial had the town ever been attacked.

The town was granted permission in 1261 by Henry III to construct the town wall, though construction didn’t begin until 1284, during the reign of Edward I. It took until the end of the following century for the wall to be completed.

The town wall enclosed an area between the river rivers Bure and Yare. Constructed out of flint, brick, basal stone, and Caen stone from France, the wall enclosed an area of 538,232 square metres. A moat was also dug around the wall to offer an extra level of protection. The wall had 10 gates and 16 towers.

During the 16th Century, in the reign of Henry VIII, the Duke of Norfolk was instructed by the king to put the town’s defences into order. At this time the wall was improved, a rampart was constructed against the internal side of the wall and was continually improved during the mid-to-late 16th Century, ultimately being completed in 1587. Gun placements were also added at this time.

During the Civil War (1642-1651), the town was refortified. At this time, the moat was re-excavated. During the conflict, Yarmouth had declared for Parliament and the towers and gatehouses along the wall were used to house prisoners.

By the late 18th Century, the wall had ceased any defensive use. The moat had also been filled in.

Today, nothing of Great Yarmouth Castle can be evidenced, though large stone foundations and a floor were found during building work in the mid 1960s which are thought to be associated with the castle.

Large sections of Great Yarmouth Town Wall and 11 of its towers survive to this day and can be seen in the town.

Great Yarmouth Town Wall
Great Yarmouth Town Wall

Great Yarmouth Town Wall
Great Yarmouth Town Wall

Great Yarmouth Town Wall
Great Yarmouth Town Wall