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DARTMOUTH CASTLE D


ARTMOUTH CASTLE IS A UNIQUE AND FASCINAT-


ING PLACE: A FORTIFICATION CREATED FROM NECESSITY, ARMED AND READY FOR AN ATTACK FROM THE SEA FOR MORE THAN 600 YEARS. IT WAS BEATEN ONLY ONCE - BY ITS OWN SIDE.


John Hawley – the supposed influence for Chaucer’s Shipmanne – was asked by King Richard II to build a ‘Fortalice” in 1388. He was told to ‘Compel’ the townspeo- ple to help if necessary – perhaps the King was expecting trouble, as Hawley was notorious for driving a hard bargain and not paying well. The Fortalice - the large wall op- posite the Castle Tea Rooms which dominates the car park - and a few other piles of stone are all that remains of that first construc- tion. It clearly took many years to complete – perhaps not until 1403 – and never saw attack from an enemy.


The castle was connected to Kingswear by a chain from around 1462. Another small fort was used to house the machinery for operat- ing the chain that was raised across the mouth of the harbour to


stop enemy ships entering. However, one legend states the town would only raise it AFTER ships had entered, to ensure they would extract the most possible tax from the visiting merchants before allowing them to leave!


In 1481 Edward IV ordered the


The castle was connected to Kingswear by a chain from


around 1462. Another small fort was used to house the machinery for operating the chain that was raised across the mouth of the harbour to stop enemy ships entering.


town to build a new tower and ‘bulwark’ which was the first in England to be built to house artil- lery. The present Guntower build- ing is the earliest surviving English coastal fortress specifically built to


carry guns.


It was not finished until after 1488 when Henry VII put more money into the project to ensure this important port was protected. The first guns - known as ‘Murderers’ - were in place before Henry gave his order but in 1491 more were installed – this was now one of the best-defended harbours in the country. The Kingswear fort was rebuilt slightly further out to sea and also had guns installed – though these had to be brass as its position was so exposed to the weather.


The castle never saw significant action – no gun was ever fired in anger at invading ships – although Dartmouth did send a number of ships to defend the nation against the Spanish Armada in 1588. One of the ships Francis Drake captured was brought into Dartmouth for more than a year and its sailors


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