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Guidebook: Walmer Castle & Gardens


Product Code: 64327

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Walmer Castle was begun amid fears of imminent European invasion in May 1539 by Henry VIII, following his divorce and break with the Roman Catholic Church. It formed one of a chain of gun forts built to the latest military designs across the south of England to protect the most important stretches of coast. With its neighbouring forts to the north, Deal and Sandown, it guarded the shallow, semi-sheltered anchorage known as the Downs. By October 1540 it was garrisoned and ready to face the cannons of Europe. The invasion never came, but Walmer remained garrisoned until into the 19th century. The only military action it saw, however, was in 1648 during the Civil War, when for three weeks Royalists held the castles of the Downs.

Walmer was the responsibility of the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, a post dating back to at least the 12th century. It was made the Warden’s official residence by Lionel Sackvile and adapted by him for domestic use in the 1730s and subsequently by successive Lords Warden, many of whom are famous in English history. William Pitt the Younger’s ‘improved’ castle and gardens made Walmer into a home for entertaining by the sea, masking its role at the height of the Napoleonic Wars as a locus of informal political and military planning, a role that continued into the First World War. The hero of Waterloo, the Duke of Wellington, often stayed here when Warden and it was here, in his room overlooking the sea, that he died in 1852.

During the First World War Prime Minister Asquith held receptions and informal meetings at Walmer and the young Winston Churchill (who would become Lord Warden during the Second World War) was one of his regular guests.

Now in the care of English Heritage, Walmer Castle has been re-dressed to reflect significant eras in the life of the castle.

Key Features:

  • 48 pages
  • Paperback
  • Published in 2015

Size: Approx. 210 mm (w) x 285 mm (h)
Author: Jonathan Coad
Author 2: Rowena Willard-Wright
ISBN: 9781848023338

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Guidebook: Walmer Castle & Gardens