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Dover Castle, Kent - England


Located at the shortest crossing between the UK and continental Europe, Dover Castle played a prime role in England's historical fortunes. Invading from France, William the Conqueror built the first castle in 1066 - an earthwork structure with a motte. Henry II did most to shape the building between 1179 and 1188, adding defences radiating out from the keep to produce Europe's first concentric castle. Henry II’s work was carried out with the help of Maurice the Ingeniator, and was completed by King John, resulting in a four-storey keep, a three-towered forebuilding and impregnable defensive walls.


From 1216-17 the castle was besieged by the French, standing up to the test, but Henry III strengthened the defences further. The outer curtain wall was completed, stretching to the edge of the cliff, and Constable's Gate was constructed - a cluster of different sized towers designed to command all angles of attack. In the 18th century, Colonel William Twiss added extra gun positions, and constructed Constable's Bastion, Canon's Gateway and numerous barracks and storehouses. Further additions were made in the 1850s, and Dover Castle played an vital role in the two world wars as a site for anti-aircraft guns and radar. The army remained in the castle until 1958, and in 1963 handed it over to the Ministry of Works for preservation.


The entry to Dover Castle, which includes two chapels, is the magnificent forebuilding. The significance of the three-towered forebuilding , can be fully appreciated, stretching along the eastern wall of the keep. It was around this stronghold that the concentric castle was developed and work was completed in the mid-13th century. Looming over the busy port, the centrepiece of Dover Castle is the Great Tower - the largest keep in Britain - a four storey building housing a basement, a first floor and a second floor spanning two stories. The outer curtain wall, with twenty individual towers, creates an outer bailey stretching to the edge of the cliff.

The Great Tower and forebuilding, viewed from the west demonstrate the vast size of Dover Castle, perched atop the cliffs overlooking the English Channel. Beneath the castle is a network of tunnels, a barracks during the Napoleonic Wars and a military command centre during World War II.

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