|No fortress in England boasts a longer history than Dover Castle.
Commanding the shortest sea crossing between England and the continent, the
site has served as a vital strategic centre since Roman times.
William the Conqueror strengthened the existing Anglo-Saxon fort in 1066,
both Henry II and Henry VIII made their own additions, and Vice Admiral
Ramsay famously oversaw the Dunkirk evacuations from the tunnels built into
the cliffs beneath the castle.
|The White Cliffs are one of England’s most celebrated
sights, yet hidden inside them is a fascinating and secret world. Deep
underground lies an extensive network of tunnels – some first dug during the
Napoleonic Wars, but so strategically useful that they continued to be used
right through to the 20th century.
In May 1940 these tunnels provided the nerve centre for Vice Admiral Ramsay
to plan The Secret Wartime Tunnels Operation Dynamo – the evacuation of
British and allied troops from the Dunkirk beaches of northern France.
Today you can tour the Secret Wartime Tunnels and experience life as it was
lived by the 700 personnel based here in the worst days of World War II. You
can see the Command Centre where Sir Winston Churchill viewed the Battle of
Britain, and relive the drama as a surgeon struggles to save the life of an
injured pilot. .
The 1216 Siege Experience, a stunning presentation using light, film and
sound technology, highlights the stronghold’s key role in resisting
invasion. It recounts the epic sieges of 1216-17, when Dover Castle held out
almost alone for King John against rebel barons and their French ally Prince
Following the annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, his
excommunication by the Pope and the 1538 peace treaty between France and
Spain, Henry VIII was isolated in Europe and a Catholic invasion of England
seemed inevitable. The King commissioned a great chain of coastal artillery
forts, coming to Dover in 1539 to inspect the work personally. An exciting
exhibition at the castle offers a tableau of the preparations for Henry
VIII’s visit. Very close to Dover you will find two more of Henry’s coastal
defences, Deal Castle and Walmer Castle.
Also of interest at the site are the Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment
Museum; one of the best-preserved Roman lighthouses in Europe; and the most
complete Saxon church in Kent.
The Stone Hut, originally built in 1912 for the Royal Garrison Artillery,
has now been converted and is being used as an archaeological store for the
South East. On the first Friday of every month (or by prearranged booking),
visitors can view changing exhibitions of treasures from across the region,
including Roman coins and pots, as well as artefacts from both World War II
and the Cold War.
Where can I find out more?
For more information including opening times, costs and
directions please see the
English Heritage website