Dover Castle “the gateway to England “... from where the coast of France can be seen on clear days only 21 miles away ... in 55BC Julius Caesar landed nearby and from then on Dover became a significant fortification.
|A view of Dover Castle, the harbour and English Channel|
In the 650 years following the Roman invasion – Angles, Jutes and Saxons continued on that tradition ... as too did the Normans. William the Conqueror’s half brother Bishop Odo of Bayeux, landed with the prefabricated parts for a castle stronghold, to be erected on the heights above Dover!
|Roman lighthouse at|
In the intervening thousand years Dover has remained a fortress stronghold playing a major part in the Civil War, fortified against invasion in the Napoleonic Wars, a strategic site in both the World Wars ... today there are many memorials in Dover to heroism, courage and valour.
Henry II (1133 – 1189) commissioned his architect, ‘Maurice the Engineer’, to build a Castle Keep here, the main fortifications being completed by later Kings. When gunpowder use in wars became more commonplace, Henry VIII (1491 – 1547) improved the Castle defences and added a Moat Bulwark.
The castle is of particular interest because it is one of the earliest in England in which the fortifications were arranged concentrically – much of this architecture was destroyed during the Napoleonic period.
|The Great Tower after restoration|
c/o English Heritage
Fortunately during the Civil War it was held for the King, but taken by trickery without a shot being fired in 1642 (hence it avoided being ravaged and survives far better than most castles).
|The Second World War Coastal|
Artillery Operations Room in the
secret tunnels under Dover Castle
During the Napoleonic War tunnels were dug into the chalk cliffs below the Castle – these are the only underground barracks ever built in Britain.
These tunnels were converted first into an air-raid shelter and then later into a military command centre with an underground hospital during the Second World War.
In recent years Dover Castle has been restored by English Heritage providing a range of ‘experiences’ for visitors to enjoy:
Ø see the underground tunnels and command centre,
Ø appreciate the importance to British history of this Castle,
Ø understand the various kingdoms and empires covering its 2,000 year history,
Ø while seeing the incredible opulence of life in Medieval England.
|The King's Hall inside the Great Tower, when Henry II|
would have greeted foreign pilgrims and dignitaries
c/o English Heritage
That is D for Dover Castle – a fortification site for over 2,000 years, which is now open to the public under the auspices of English Heritage ... part of the ABC series Aspects of British Castles
Bob Scotney’s castle yesterday was C for Chillingham ...
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