2009 Castles of England Dover Castle

The castle as it is recognised today took on its shape during the reign of Henry II. It was designed by Maurice the “Engineer” and was the first fortress in Western Europe to have concentric defenses. Henry II was also responsible for having the large keep built in c1190 and which saw continued use right up until the middle of the 20th century.

In 1216 the castle was besieged by Louis VIII of France in an attempt to take the English Crown. Although the castle defences were seriously tested, the attack was unsuccessful. After this, Henry III consequently strengthened the northern defences which also included a system of tunnels, accommodation and a great hall. Edward VI modernised the keep in the second half of the 15th Century.

Towards the end of the 18th Century during the Napoleonic Wars, massive rebuilding to give greater defences was undertaken by William Twiss, who also installed new underground barracks and storerooms. At the height of the Napoleonic Wars more than 2000 men were housed in the barracks.

During the Second World War, these tunnels were converted into air raid shelters and then later served as a military command centre and underground hospital. Operation Dynamo, the name given to the evacuation of Dunkirk, was directed from there under the command of Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsey. During the 1960’s the complex of tunnels were equipped as a government base in the event of a nuclear attack on London. Nowadays the castle is owned by English Heritage and is the site of a major tourist attraction.