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East Cowes

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Old Castle Point; EastCow

In the civil parish of East Cowes.
In the historic county of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
Modern Authority of Isle of Wight.
1974 county of Isle of Wight.
Medieval County of Hampshire, Isle of Wight.

OS Map Grid Reference: SZ51109656
Latitude 50.76657° Longitude -1.27654°

East Cowes has been described as a certain Artillery Fort, and also as a certain Chain Tower.

There are no visible remains.


East Cowes Castle was an artillery fort built in 1539-42 by Henry VIII as part of his network of coastal fortifications to defend against the threat of French and Spanish invasion. In conjunction with West Cowes Castle, located on the other side of estuary mouth, it defended the entrance to the River Medina and Cowes Harbour. The fortification was abandoned around 1546-7 and was in ruins by the 17th century. No remains of the castle have survived; however the place where the castle stood still retains the name of Old Castle Point.
No details of the castle are known although from the size of its garrison and the amount spent on its construction it may have been similar to that of West Cowes Castle. Stone from the dissolved abbeys at Beaulieu and Quarr may have been used for its construction. (PastScape)

The construction of East Cowes Castle was begun in March/April 1539 and was probably not fully completed until 1542. It was originally conceived as a single defence work, but the plan was quickly adapted to include a second, larger, fort at West Cowes. (SZ 49 NE 10). Since the expenditure on its construction, and the size of the garrison, was roughly the same as for West Cowes Castle, the castle probably resembled that at West Cowes. The engineers may have used stone from the abbeys at Beaulieu and Quarr, and possibly from East Shamblord (SZ 59 SW 4). It was abandoned c.1546-7, and was a ruin by the 17th century. (PastScape ref. HKW)

22 Feb 1541. Warrant passed under stamp to Sir Brian Tuke to pay 1,000l. to John Mille for fortifications of the East and West Cowes, the Hurst, and the Freshwater.
29 Sept. 1543. John Mille, for bulwarks at Eastcow, Westecowe and Hurste, Hants, warrants 30 June and 4 March anno 33 {1540}, 3,900l. (Letters and Papers Henry VIII)

There are no remains of this fortification at OLD CASTLE POINT. Its side may be some distance out in the SOLENT, as, before the modern sea-wall was built, erosion was probably rapid. (PastScape ref. F1 VJB 03-FEB-55)
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:07

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