From The Neolithic To The Sea: A Journey From The Past To The Present

Dartmouth Castle

50°20'30.7"N 3°33'56.5"W
SX 8868550275

  • History
  • Gallery
  • Gallery
  • Gallery
  • Gallery
  • Gallery
  • Gallery
Dartmouth Castle is an artillery fort, located on the mouth of the River in Dart in Dartmouth, Devon.

The castle was built in the 1380's, in response to the threat of a French attack during the Hundred Years War. It was designed to engage enemy ships with catapults and may have had an early cannon. It was constructed on land belonging to the Carew family, and was built around a pre-existing chapel to Saint Petroc on the site.

At the end of the 15th century, the castle was expanded with an artillery tower and an iron chain which could be stretched across the harbour to a tower at Godmerock. Further gun batteries were added during the French invasion scare of the 1540s.

In 1597, with the threat of a Spanish invasion, the gun tower was improved and Lamberd's Bulwarke repaired.

It was during the English Civil War of 1642 to 1646, which showed the castles vulnerability to attack from the land, resulting in the Gallants Bower defensive work above it being used to provide additional protection.

A survey conducted in 1715, reported that the castle was in a 'ruinous condition' and that none of its artillery had been maintained. A ever, a renewed threat from France prompted fresh work. In 1741, Lamberd's Bulwarke was strengthened, and in 1748 the government then renamed the bulwark the Grand Battery, transforming it into a two-tiered platform armed with twelve guns. The older parts of the castle were retained by the town and used primarily for accommodation and storage. The port of Dartmouth began to decline in importance,as nearby Plymouth taking much of its former trade.

After years of neglect, the castle was upgraded in 1859 with more modern artillery, but defending the port of Dartmouth was no longer a military priority. By the early years of the 20th century the castle was opened it to visitors. It was brought back into use during the First and Second World Wars, but in 1955 it was finally retired from service.

Today, it is managed by English Heritage and is still open to the public.