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Margate Fort

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

OS Map Grid Reference: TR355713
Latitude 51.39221° Longitude 1.38492°

Margate Fort has been described as a probable Artillery Fort.

There are no visible remains.


'a small fort of little concernement’ (John Eveleyn 1672)

The Fort seems to have been built sometime in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. In 1569 the Spanish Ambassador, Guerau de Spes, reported to the King of Spain that the English ‘are making plans to fortify Margate’, so that any existing fortifications at Margate were likely to have been fairly primitive. (Cal.S.P. Simancas) In a second report, in 1570, he described how Charles Howard had arrived in Margate to take charge of a squadron of ships that, as a mark of friendship, was to accompany a fleet of Spanish ships during its passage through the English Channel, carrying Ann of Austria to Spain for her marriage to the Philip, King of Spain. He reported that Charles Howard ‘has his look-out on the hill close to Margate, and when our Queen’s fleet is sighted they will go out to salute and receive her’.(Cal.S.P. Simancas) The ‘hill’ is presumably the hill overlooking the harbour on which the Fort was to be built, and the reference to just a hill again suggests the absence of any extensive fortifications at the time. In 1588 the Venetian Ambassador in France wrote in a report to the Doge in Venice that ‘there is a scheme for fortifying all the coast on both sides of Margate, which is the place where a landing might most easily be effected, and where it was discovered that the Spaniards actually intended to land. This can be done at very small cost, and in a very short time’ (Cal. S.P. Venice).
The first defences to be constructed at Margate would have consisted of little more than simple earthworks on which to mount guns. In March 1558 steps had been taken to provide Margate with some ordinance: (Acts Privy Council).
_A lettre to Sir Richard Sowthewell, Master of thordinance, to geve order that for the better defence of thisle of Thannett in Kent there may be sent furthewith unto Sir Henry Crispe, knight, thies parcelles of ordynance and munycion following; viz.. thre pieces of ordinance called sacres of yron, three fawcons either of yron or bras, foure demibarrelles of powlder, and for every piece xxti {twenty} shott; indenting nevertheless, with the saide Sir Henry for the redelyvery of the same pieces here after to the Quenenes (sic) Majesties use._ (Lee 2015)

It seems clear that there was a small artillery bulwark and a beacon at Margate by 1624. The beacon site seems to be present by 1570 and it seems that there were plans and preparations for artillery defences dating from a decade before the Armada scare of 1588, although, given the general shortages of munitions and money under the reign of Elizabeth these plans may have been incipient only. Actual artillery pieces may have only been emplaced in 1624.
A site seemingly missed by the usual authorities and absent from the archaeological databases which only record later defences.
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This record last updated 15/08/2017 15:56:55

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