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

Walmer Castle

51° 12′ 3.57″ N, 1° 24′ 8.31″ E

  • History
  • Gallery
  • Gallery
  • Gallery
  • Gallery
Walmer Castle is located at Walmer village between Deal and Kingdown in Kent. It is an artillery fortress known as a Device Fort or a Henrician Castle.

The castle was built for King Henry VII in 1539 - 40 as part of a chain of coastal defences in southern England. It is one of three castles built to protect the Downs and an area of safe anchorage which is also protected by the Goodwin Sands. The other forts were at Deal and Sandown.

These artillery castles were built with a circular squat keep which was protected by a concentric wall with four squat semi-circular bastions arranged around the wall. The northern bastion forms the gatehouse and the other bastions were uses as canon platforms as well as the central keep. The castle had a maximum capacity of 39 canons. A dry moat surrounded the castle and was defended by 32 loops to enable soldiers to defend the castle.

Although the castles were never used in anger during the Tudor period, they were well maintained and kept armed. The castle was put to test during the English Civil War in 1648 when the castle came undersiege. At first the castle were held by the Parliamentarians but they switched sides and supported the Royalists. This forced the Parliamentarians to lay siege to the castle, this campaign was commanded by Colonel Rich who took the castle in three weeks.

Walmer Castle became the residence of the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports in 1708. This confederation came about in the 11th century when five ports joined forces to provide ships and men for the defence of the coast and protection of cross-channel trade. In the 13th century the office of Warden was instituted to oversee the the Confederation. With the forming of a Royal Navy and the decline of the Cinque Ports, the role of Warden became more of an honorary position bestowed to those who had given distinguished service to the state.

Over the years successive Wardens converted the fort and its grounds into a comfortable country house and gardens. Resident Wardens included William Pitt the Younger, the Duke of Wellington, Sir Winston Churchill and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. Memorabilia from these past Wardens, including two rooms dedicated to the Duke of Wellington, can be viewed at the castle. The present warden is Lord Boyce.