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Deal Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Dele; Deale; Dole; The great Castle

In the civil parish of Deal.
In the historic county of Kent.
Modern Authority of Kent.
1974 county of Kent.
Medieval County of Kent.

OS Map Grid Reference: TR37775220
Latitude 51.21943° Longitude 1.40356°

Deal Castle has been described as a certain Artillery Fort.

There are major building remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


The history and development of the artillery castle at Deal is documented by many contemporary records and illustrations, providing evidence for the changing function of the monument over five centuries. Despite subsequent alterations and World War II damage, the monument survives well, retaining much of its original fabric. The castle is one of three which form a distinctive and well known group of coastal fortifications. Together these illustrate the strategic role assigned to this stretch of coast during the 16th century. The monument includes an artillery castle situated on the low-lying east Kent coast in the modern seaside town of Deal. The castle is the largest of a group of three, the other two being located at Walmer 2km to the south and Sandown 2km to the north, built between 1539-40 by Henry VIII in order to protect the shallow semi-sheltered anchorage between the Goodwin Sands and the coast, known as the Downs. This was of great strategic importance because, by the 16th century, there were few other safe places of refuge for ships along the channel coast between Kent and Portsmouth. The castles of the Downs were built in the face of the political crisis and consequent fear of invasion occasioned by the king's divorce of Catherine of Aragon in 1533. They were financed from the proceeds raised by the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The castle, which has been the subject of alteration and repair over the centuries, is built of Kentish ragstone from local quarries and the sea shore, brick, and Caen stone reused from nearby disused religious houses. It was designed around an essentially circular, symmetrical plan and originally incorporated up to 145 gunports or embrasures on five tiers. At the centre is a three-storeyed circular citadel, or tower, with six semicircular, slightly lower towers projecting from its external face. The citadel has a central, newel staircase. Timber and wattle-and-daub partitions, some of which survive, divided the area surrounding the central stair well into interconnecting rooms, with the ceiling joists radiating from the centre like the spokes of a wheel. The citadel provided accommodation for the permanent garrison, originally a captain, deputy, porter and 16 gunners, with the officers' accommodation on the upper floor. The ground floor also housed a kitchen and bakery, of which the ovens and fireplace survive. In the centre of the rib-vaulted, brick-lined basement is a large, circular well. The basement is ventilated by shafts leading down from the ground floor and was used to store ammunition and supplies. Surrounding the citadel beyond a narrow ward are six low semicircular bastions connected by a curtain wall which provided platforms on their upper levels for heavy guns, now represented by four 18th century cast-iron guns mounted on carriages on the eastern, seaward side. Within the outer wall of the basement of the bastions, facing into the moat, is a continuous gallery known as the rounds, pierced by 53 hand-gun ports which gave complete coverage of the bottom of the moat. Vents over the ports were designed to draw off the gun smoke, and at irregular intervals in the wall behind are L-shaped ammunition lockers. Contemporary illustrations show that the citadel and outer bastions were originally capped by broad rounded parapets pierced by gun embrasures. Traces of these survive on two bastions on the western side, but most were replaced by battlements during alterations carried out in 1732. The castle buildings are further protected by a stone-lined dry moat up to 20m wide and 5m deep, originally crossed on its western, landward side by a wooden drawbridge. The slots for the lifting gear survive above the pointed archway entrance, constructed within the westernmost bastion, although the drawbridge has been replaced by a stone causeway. A portcullis originally fronted the iron studded oak door. Defensive features incorporated within the gatehouse include five murder holes, or vents (through which offensive materials could be dropped on attackers) set in the ceiling of the large entrance passage, a gunport in the back wall covering the doorway and a staggered approach to the ward and citadel. The defences were originally augmented by a series of bulwarks, or earthen defences, built along the coast between the castle and its sister castles at Walmer and Sandown, although these defences no longer survive. The castle saw no action until the Civil War when, during the Royalist revolt in Kent in 1648, it was captured and held out against Parliamentary forces for several weeks. Its defences continued to be maintained during the late 17th and 18th centuries and during the Napoleonic wars, although its strategic function was much diminished by this time. Substantial alterations carried out during the early 18th century reflected the decreasing military importance of the castle and included the construction of a captain's lodging house within the ward on the seaward side, the conversion of many of the gun embrasures of the citadel into casement windows and the building of a wooden lantern, which contains a bell circa 1655, on top of the central tower. In 1802 further alterations were made and the lodging house was demolished and rebuilt, serving as a residence for the holder of the now honorary post of Captain until destroyed by an enemy bomb during World War II. This occasioned further repair and restoration work to the castle, although the lodging house was not rebuilt. The castle continues to form part of the Crown Estate and is now in the care of the Secretary of State and open to the public. (Scheduling Report)
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:06

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