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Ryde Fort

In the civil parish of Ryde.
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: SZ59289288
Latitude 50.73258° Longitude -1.16128°

Ryde Fort has been described as a probable Artillery Fort.

There are no visible remains.


By 1489, there was a small 'Bulwarke' at Ryde near the sea shore, located roughly at the foot of Union Street. A Victorian guidebook mentioned that, "The watchouse stood on the site of the coffee room of the Pier Hotel" (Venables 1860). It is clear that this refers to a watch-house that was built on the shore or 'waste' at a later date and not the fort itself. An indenture of purchase between Sir John Dillington and Henry Player in 1705 gives details of all the properties belonging to "All that the Manner of Ashey and Ryde als. Buckland", which Player was buying off Dillington. Mentioned in this indenture is a lease issued in 1681 to Charity Mitchell, which helps to locate this fort more exactly. It describes that the abuttals of the property "extendeth from the Bulwarke on the South to the Sea on the North". This property was situated at the bottom of modern Union Street "at the North End of a Close called Noad Close" and was known as "The Steps". It was located immediately on the west side of Union Street and extended to the east side of the same street. The "Common footpath and the Queen's Highway" ran down through it. A distance of thirty yards is given from the sea on the north back to the southern boundary where the bulwark was; this boundary on the south is in line with the north building line of Church Lane. The fort can therefore be located on or near the site of 78 Union Street, possibly taking in part of Union Street adjoining.
The fort was mainly a wooden construction, the Manor accounts mostly mentioning expenditure for timber and carpenters. Its armament consisted of one gun that fired lead and stone shot. The bulwark seems to have had lines of hedging bushes planted in front of it as additional defence. Expenses for this fortification were met by the Lord of the Manor of Ashey, the Abbey of Wherwell, and thus it was a privately financed venture. This was a usual trait of small, local fortifications, whereas large forts were too expensive for private means, and thus required government intervention. (Rob Martin)

In 1324, a beacon is recorded at 'la Ryde' and in 1638 a watch of two men. They may both be identified with Ryde.
No definite site for this beacon was established. The outskirts of Ryde are on several small hills which command equal visibility; or alternatively this may have been a so-called shore-beacon (F1 WW 28-FEB-55). (PastScape)

This may be the same as a C14 beacon recorded in PastScape or some historical references to the beacon and the fort may be confabulated.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:06

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