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Dover Port Defences

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Dover Havyn; Clerk's Pier

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

OS Map Grid Reference: TR317404
Latitude 51.11848° Longitude 1.31066°

Dover Port Defences has been described as a probable Artillery Fort, and also as a Chain Tower although is doubtful that it was such.

There are no visible remains.


Two masonry round towers forming artillery emplacements were built upon a stone pier constructed by John Clerk about 1500 running out from the Archcliffe promontory. One of these towers may have been largely destroyed by the sea in 1530 but according to Batcheller the foundations of the other (perhaps the earlier of the two) survived at 'the entrance to Round Tower Street near the National School'. Barrington Jones asserts that the foundations of both towers had been discovered (CAT, 1991). (Kent HER)

Two round towers with artillery pieces and a chain between them, are shown at the mouth of Dover port, on the ends of the piers, in a plan of 1541 and on The Embarkation of Henry VIII at Dover. (?c. 1520). These may be intended fortifications or idealisations but also occur on a plan of 1575, although not on a plan of 1585 (although the South jetty is labelled Black Bulwark). A plan of proposals for Dover Harbour may include existing features including a square block house ladelled 'The Black Bulwark' half way along a pier. A plan of 1595 seems accurate and shows no artillery on the pier but does so many pieces at Archcliffe and a piece on the sea wall at the base of a pier and two more pieces behind the sea front road within the harbour.
Although there are clearly fanciful and proposed features on these plans it does seem likely there was some sort of artillery placement on the Dover port pier in the 1530-40s. By the late C16 artillery had longer range and placing artillery on the pier, where salt sea spray would have caused considerably trouble in rusting iron and wetting powder, was no longer necessary. The existence of a harbour chain or boom seems less certain.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:06

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