Dover Castle & Harbour, Kent - Framed Picture - 11" x 14"
Dover Castle & Harbour Kent - Framed Picture - 11" x 14"
Dover Castle is a medieval castle in Dover. It was founded in the 11th century and has been described as the "Key to England" due to its defensive significance throughout history. It is the largest castle in England.
This site may have been fortified with earthworks in the Iron Age or earlier, before the Romans invaded in AD43. 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.
The site also contained one of Dover's two 80-foot Roman lighthouses, one of which still survives, whilst the remains of the other are located on the opposing Western Heights, across the town of Dover. On the site is a classic montrol where the Normans landed after their victorious conquest.
In 1088, eight knights were appointed under tenures to guard Dover Castle, their names were: William d'Albrincis; Fulberl de Dover, William d'Arsic; Geoffrey Peverell; William Maminot; Robert du Port; Hugh Crevecoeur; and Adam Fitzwilliam.
It was during the reign of Henry II that the castle began to take recognisable shape. The great keep belong to this time and is one of the last rectangular keeps ever built.
In 1216, a group of rebel barons invited the future Louis VIII of France to come and take the English crown. He had some success breaching the walls, but was unable ultimately to take the castle.
The vulnerable north gate that had been breached in the siege was converted into an underground forward-defence complex, and new gates built into the outer curtain wall on the western and eastern sides. During the siege, the English defenders tunnelled outwards and attacked the French, thus creating the only counter-tunnel in the world. This can still be seen in the medieval works.
Dover Castle was a crucial observation point for the cross-channel sightings of the Anglo-French Survey (1784–1790), which used trigonometric calculations to link the Royal Greenwich Observatory with the Paris Observatory. This work was overseen by General William Roy.
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.
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. At the height of the Napoleonic Wars, the tunnels housed more than 2,000 men and to date are the only underground barracks ever built in Britain.
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.
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 Ramsey 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. The navy used the exchange to enable direct communication with vessels, as well as using it to direct air-sea rescue craft to pick up pilots shot down in the Straits of Dover.