Turrets & Tunnels, Dover Castle, England

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

Garrisoned for over 800 years.

Dover castle is a prominent fortress high on the White Cliffs of the Kent coastline and has an incredible timeline.

An entrance to the Castle, Dover Castle, Dover, Kent, England

Romans left a legacy of a stone lighthouse, it’s seen Royals come and go and clandestine secrets being formulated in its underground tunnels during WWII.

What a place for us to discover further, so, armed with our English Heritage cards we enter the battlement.

Imposing

The grounds of Dover castle are fairly large, when you pass through the first stone gate, the main castle fortification will open up in front of you.

The inner walls of Dover Castle, Dover, Kent, England

Tip

Join English Heritage to obtain significant savings, while visiting some of England’s historical landmarks.

Pharos

Before heading in, take a wander up to the ancient Roman lighthouse that was built between 115-40, and still stands today.

The Roman Lighthouse, Dover Castle, Dover, Kent, England
Inside the lighthouse, Dover, Kent, England

The lighthouse occupies a high vantage point across the harbour below.

Garrison Church

Just next to the lighthouse is the Church of St Mary-in-Castro built during the late 10th & early 11th century.

Unfortunately, this little church suffered years of neglect on and off during the 16th & 17th century and was used as a coal store in the early 1800’s.

The Church of St Mary-in-Castro, Dover Castle, Dover, Kent, England

It wasn’t until the 19th century that it was finally restored, you must take a look inside at the unusual mosaics on the walls.

This ancient Garrison church continued to hold services all through the Battle of Britain which was fought overhead.

Inside St Mary-in-Castro, Dover Castle, Dover, Kent, England

To the castle, you go

Crossing the drawbridge, you wander into the main fortification.

An approach to the Castle, Dover Castle, Dover, Kent, England

After William the Conqueror’s success in the Battle of Hastings in 1066, he had the original defences put in place at Dover Castle. Amazingly from then on (over 800 years) Dover Castle was garrisoned up until 1958.

The Great Keep, Dover Castle, Dover, Kent, England

Point to note

Ample free parking & there’s also a free land train to take you around the castle grounds.

Henry II

However, it was Henry II who had the castle rebuilt as it stands today during 1180-89. The imposing structure of the Great Tower was really built as a palace more than a fortress. As Henry II would entertain his distinguished visitors.

Inside the Great Keep, Dover Castle, Dover, Kent, England

The tower stands at around 83ft (25metres) in height, and the walls are an incredible 21ft (6.5 metres) thick in places.

Grand Halls, Dover Castle, Dover, Kent, England
The Knights' mess quarters, Dover Castle, Dover, Kent, England

Recreating the past

English Heritage has refurbished the interior of the Great Tower to give you a better understanding of how the Monarchs would have lived, both upstairs and downstairs.

The King's bed chamber, Dover Castle, Dover, Kent, England

As you stroll around the inside you’ll wander through the colourful bedrooms, the dining hall, there is even a fire lit, that’s burning wood which permeates through the castle as you stroll around.

However, these great Royal palaces don’t run on their own

To the well, Dover Castle, Dover, Kent, England
Bucket and well, Dover Castle, Dover, Kent, England
For entertaining, Dover Castle, Dover, Kent, England

On hand

What I like about the English Heritage run attractions, is that they always have friendly knowledgeable people on hand, ready to answer any question that you may have. You can tell they enjoy their work.

Fire inside the keep, Dover Castle, Dover, Kent, England

We continue through the castle branching off into the little side rooms, one of which was a tiny chapel dedicated to Thomas Becket.

The chapel inside the Great Keep, Dover Castle, Dover, Kent, England

 Like Castles?

If this interests you then why not read about some of the other Castles in Kent like Deal, Walmer, Rochester & Upnor

Up on the roof

As we head further up the tower, we finally reach the roof and climb out on top of the castle, to see the wonderful views below.

View over the harbour, Dover Castle, Dover, Kent, England

During the 13th century, successive rings of defensive walls were added around the castle.

Inside the Castle walls, Dover Castle, Dover, Kent, England

Have You?

Visited any of England’s other castles, there are some fantastic fortresses around the country?

Medieval Tunnels

You can’t help yourself but venture down into the damp, dark winding Medieval tunnels, they were burrowed out under the castle, during Siege of 1216.

These were created to protect the most vulnerable side of the castle from attack, hopefully, what the enemy least expected.

Cold medieval tunnelst, Dover Castle, Dover, Kent, England
A cannon in place, Dover Castle, Dover, Kent, England
Firepower inside the tunnels, Dover Castle, Dover, Kent, England

At times wandering along the tunnels, we needed a torch to see where we were going.

Wartime Tunnels

The tunnels used in the Operation Dynamo & the Underground Hospital tours, were built at the end of the 17th century as barracks and storerooms.

Entrance to the WWII tunnels, Dover Castle, Dover, Kent, England

However, at the start of WWII in 1939, they were converted into air-raid shelters. Then later into a military command centre and an underground hospital.

Useful Tip

The Wartime Tunnel tours fill up quick, arrive early to ensure you secure your place. You can’t book, it’s first come first served basis.

Operation Dynamo

Unfortunately, there was no photography allowed in the tunnel tours.

However, it was one of the highlights of the visit. The Operation Dynamo tour takes around 1 hour and you are led through a network of tunnels.

The story unfolds as to how in May 1940, Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsey led the evacuation of French and British soldiers from Dunkirk, code-named Operation Dynamo.

You are taken through rooms to create an atmosphere to make you feel like you have been transported back in time.

You wander along graffiti tunnel, watch videos of how the invasion happened, and you gain an understanding of how close our troops came to being so nearly captured while under massive enemy fire.

The statue to Sir Bertram Ramsey , Dover Castle, Dover, Kent, England

It’s fascinating to see the communication rooms, plans and maps that led to the successful evacuation.

Tempted to?

Discover more of the Great British Isles, why not jump in a car and tour the country at your own pace. You can do it all on a road trip, SIXT car hire cover all budgets and allow you to pick up and drop off at different destinations.

WWI

Dover Castle also played its part in WWI, with the Fire Command Post sitting prominently near the cliff edge.

Lookout, Dover Castle, Dover, Kent, England

From here a clear view could be seen across the harbour and the English Channel.

Relaxed pace

There are a couple of options here; however, you can catch a train from London St Pancras to Dover Priory Station which takes just over 1 hour.

Inspired to visit Dover Castle?

Why not pack a picnic and come along and enjoy the fun?

Whilst you can stay in Dover, we would recommend Deal. A short distance away by rail & road.

You can checkout the latest deals on Booking.Com?

Booking.com

(Why not Pin It for Later?)

About the Author

Janis

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.

If you enjoyed this post

Why not subscribe to our Monthly Newsletter?
Join Us
Give it a try, you can unsubscribe anytime.

Have you seen?

Turrets & Tunnels, Dover Castle, England was last modified: July 16th, 2018 by Janis