A visit to Deal Castle on the English Kent coast

In Days Out, English Heritage, Kent, Our Journeys, Trip-Types, UK Travel by JanisLeave a Comment

Henry VIII’s defence against our neighbours

On a bright autumnal morning, there’s only one place to head, and that’s the British coastline.
So, Gary and I set off to discover Deal Castle the Tudor artillery fort on the beautiful shoreline of Kent overlooking the English Channel.

The English Heritage flag, set against a deep blue sky, flying over the entrance to Deal Castle
The entrance to the Keep

Armed with our English Heritage membership cards rather than our bucket and spades, Deal and Walmer Castle were calling our names.

While visiting Deal Castle ensure you save plenty of time to stroll around the charming town of Deal, with its pastel-coloured houses lined along ancient lanes.

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Interested in the coast around England?

We have a new little book on our shelves that we delve into when we're heading to the coast.

Packed full of historical facts, and broken down into the different counties of England.  It tells tales of the history of the shoreline that surrounds our country.

Available in Kindle & Hardback editions, it's an excellent addition to anyone's collection who loves the English seaside.

King Henry VIII left his mark

Deal Castle was built by Henry VIII's order between 1539-40 and was a key stronghold in the chain of coastal artillery forts, which formed a part of the King’s “Device Programme”.

The exterior stone circular walls of Deal Castle, under a blue sky.
Deal Castle

Extremely concerned by the threat of invasion from France and the Holy Roman Empire (which he had brought upon himself). King Henry VIII needed to defend his realm and therefore had three castles built (Walmer, Deal and Sandown). Along with the three castles, earthwork defences were constructed between them, for further protection of the Downs.

A side profile of an 18th/19th-century cast-iron cannon on a wooden carriage on the walls of Deal Castle

A defensive cannon

How to get there

You can catch a direct train from London St Pancras to Deal Station. Additionally, if you also wanted to visit Walmer Castle, this is on the same train line and the stop after Deal.

The King took no chances

Although Deal Castle doesn’t sit on high commanding ground, its core strengths were its low-lying fortress.
Its main defences were a keep, six large outer and six inner circular stone bastions, and designed to offer firepower to its enemy from 140 guns. In addition, Deal Castle was protected by a moat.

Three of the exterior stone bastions of Deal Castle from the 16th-century

The Bastions of Deal Castle

This level of fortification of Deal Castle allowed sixty-six artillery firing positions from around the fortress.
The heavy wooden door, reinforced with iron studs, at the entrance to Deal Castle

A secure entrance to Deal Castle

Unfortunately Deal Castle never really came into its own, and at its height was armed with only 57 guns.

English Heritage Membership

If you plan on visiting multiple English Heritage sites, you may want to consider an annual pass. You’ll be amazed at how much you will save, just click on the banner below.
Free parking is available on site.

The rustic edges of Deal Castle

While the living quarters in Deal Castle were improved during the 18th & 19th centuries, it never quite stood the test of time like Walmer Castle, its sister fortress just along the shoreline.
A circular stone faulted basement within Deal Castle

The lower levels of Deal Castle

Walmer Castle became rather sought after and was the home of the “Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports”.  William Pitt the Younger, held the position during the late 18th & early 19th century. Then during the 19th century, the Duke of Wellington resided there and passed away in Walmer Castle.
This was also a position held by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

An empty circular stone faulted basement with solid wooden doors in Deal Castle
The vaulted basement

An interesting read

If you're intrigued by Kent's weird and wonderful history, or all unusual stories around the county, then take a peek at "Kent's Strangest Tales".

You won't be able to put it down, you can pick it up for your Kindle or in good old paperback.

Free to roam Deal Castle

What I loved about Deal Castle is that the whole fortress is open for you to explore at your leisure.
Climb to the bastions’ uppermost point and wander around the top of the castle for some stunning views across the English Channel. On a clear day, you may even see France.

An 18th/19th century cast-iron cannon, and a stack of cannonballs placed on the walls of Deal Castle facing out to sea

Cannons looking out to Sea

Once you have manoeuvred yourself around the cannons, head down through the fort and enter the dark passages beneath the bastions, these are great fun for the kids.
Light seeping into the interior of the basement of Deal Castle past an ancient wooden door.

A secure exit

A heavy stone archway leading to a spiral staircase within Deal Castle
Staircase to the upper levels
You’ll be wandering shoulder to shoulder through four-hundred-year-old passageways, which encircle the castle.

Kent coastal road trip

Discover 11 of Kent’s charming and historic coastal towns on a road trip. Uncover the delights of Broadstairs, Deal, Margate, Hythe, Folkestone and more.

Deal Castle’s living quarters

An iron door to an oven within the lower levels of Deal Castle

The bakers oven

As you step back up through the narrow corridors, to the next level, you’ll enter the living quarters, complete with stone ovens and charred fireplaces. These surroundings feel a little more homely; however, they are still quite stark.

A firepit with an iron surround in Deal Castle

The remains of the fireplace

Also on this level are other castle exhibits on display along with children’s interactive games. A large pictorial map of Europe portraying history during the 16th Century, is great for understating the timeline of events overseas.
A large map exhibit, detailing the balance of power within Europe during Henty VIII's reign, in one of the many rooms within Deal Castle
Europe at the time of Henry VIII
Continuing to the highest level, and as you would expect is the captain’s first-floor residence. Read the fascinating and varied historical stories of the people who lived and worked in Deal Castle. It gives an interesting insight into their lives.
An archway leading to a spiral staircase of the decorated upper levels of Deal Castle

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Kent rural road trip

Discover Kent on a rural road trip, lush rolling countryside filled with orchards, vineyards, quaint villages and oast houses, so it makes for a perfick visit.

* This post may contain links to affiliated sites where we earn a small commission at no additional charge to you.

Inspired to visit Deal Castle?

Want to see Henry VIII's legacy on the Kent coast?  There's a lot more to see & do at Deal, and it's an ideal base to discover the eastern coastline of Kent.
If you’re planning a day out in the UK or fancy touring the British Isles by train, then check out the offers and journey options with raileasy.
Have a peek at the latest offers from Booking.com, our preferred hotel booking website.
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About the Author


Janis, the co-founder of Our World for You, was born in London and raised in Kent and the Isle of Wight. Along with Gary her partner, they have been travelling part time since 1995. In 2016, they decided that enough was enough with the 9 to 5, so armed with the knowledge and experience that they had gained on their adventures, that they wanted to inspire others to travel the world near and far.

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Trips100 - Travel Blogs

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