Wednesday, 14 April 2010

A Tudor Rose built in stone

If you walk past Deal Castle, you won't appreciate its shape and you may even not be very impressed, not if you're a fan of large and impressive castles.  Deal is a low and rather squat building, but ideal for its purpose. The low profile presented a very small target for the enemy and that is why it was built.

The walls of high medieval castles aren't well adapted to withstanding heavy fire so the castles built by Henry VIII to withstand the threat of invasion from Europe in 1538 were very different.  They had thick walls with a central round keep surrounded by semi-circular bastions.  Deal is a prime example, especially since later additions of warden's were destroyed during the Second World War.  That particular cloud had a silver lining because it restored the castle to its original state.

In the 18th century, the parapets were changed from the original more rounded appearance into the current shape, more like the crenellation usually imagined as a "typical" castle. There were cannon on top of the central keep, and on the lower bastions, giving three levels in all, with 145 gun ports.

In this picture you can see the slope of the paving, upwards away from the parapets.  This was to counteract the recoil from the cannon.

Inside there were further gun ports in vaulted chambers with vents to allow smoke to escape.

These were on ground floor level, with the kitchens and soldiers' room. Beneath this was the basement, or "rounds", a continuous circular passage with still further gun ports, an ammunition store, and at the centre a well.

The copper door to the ammunition store, to protect against sparks.

The well in the basement.  Hand pumps in various places drew water from this well.  A laundry was installed at a later date.

On the upper floor of the keep were rooms for officers.  These were refurbished during the 18th century.

An old fireplace in the officers' quarters.

The rooms are all odd shapes but it's really only outside that you can appreciate the shape of the whole castle.  Better still is an aerial view but this artist's view shows not only how the parapets have been altered and how the sea has retreated, but it also gives a very clear impression of the Tudor Rose shape.

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  1. I've never been there, and I hadn't realised about the design. I love the postcard view - Alan Sorrell? A brilliant reconstructive artist.

  2. Yes, you're right! Alan Sorrell it is. I'm sorry to say I hadn't known of him before.

  3. A sturdy and protective fortress. The interior is very interesting.

  4. Hi A, sorry I haven't been around for a while. This is not a place I have visited(the castle), posts like this always remind me of how much there is in the UK from a historical point of view.
    Here, history is not as easy to follow, which is a pity since Thailand has an interesting past.

  5. I managed to visit Deal and Dover in one day a few years ago, really liked them both.

  6. Simply wonderful! I agree with you there: castle and churches - marvelous architecture and so interesting buildings, so much history in the walls!

  7. Very interesting facts. Thanks for sharing.


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