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Historic England Research Records

East Tilbury Blockhouse

Hob Uid: 1378614
Location :
Thurrock
Thurrock
East Tilbury
Grid Ref : TQ6894576162
Summary : The site of a Henrician blockhouse built between 1539 and 1541 at East Tilbury, Essex by Henry VIII as part of his chain of coastal defences. East Tilbury Blockhouse was one of five blockhouses built along this stretch of the river Thames to defend the approach to London and the dockyards at Woolwich and Deptford; the others being at Tilbury, Higham, Milton and Gravesend. East Tilbury and Higham were located at a narrow point in the river to allow for cross-fire. The blockhouse was disarmed in 1553 and was in ruins on the foreshore by 1735. It is possible that the remains of the blockhouse lie beneath the mud.East Tilbury Blockhouse was constructed from stone and timber robbed from St Margaret's Chantry nearby. It comprised of a simple gun tower with splayed embrasures for cannon, with guns in bombproof casemates and in open emplacements on the roof. It may have had a small defended enceinte or earthen rampart with guns in front.This location continued to be of strategic importance and the Victorian Coalhouse Fort was built just inshore from the Henrician blockhouse.
More information : TQ 691 761 Blockhouse (site of)

Probable site of a Henrician blockhouse built on the River Thames at East Tilbury, Essex between 1539 and 1541 as part of a scheme to defend the approach to London and the dockyards at Woolwich and Deptford. There were four other blockhouses at Tilbury, Higham, Milton and Gravesend. The blockhouses were built to designs by Christopher Morice, Master of Ordnance, and James Needham, Clerk and Surveyor of Works. (1)

The blockhouse was located at an important ferry crossing between East Tilbury and Gravesend.

There is some dispute as to when the blockhouse was destroyed, but by 1735 it was in ruins on the foreshore. It is likely that the site is now beneath the mudflats in front of Coalhouse Point. (2)

The foreshore at Coalhouse Point was recorded by English Heritage in October-November 2000 following a request by the Inspector of Ancient Monuments, in order to ascertain whether any traces of the blockhouse could be discovered. This structure was previously recorded under the reference 413479 (TQ 67 NE 19).

The blockhouses were purpose-built to house artillery for the engagement of shipping on the river, denying an enemy the opportunity to bombard the shore or to disembark. Those at East Tilbury and Higham were located at a narrow point in the river to allow for cross-fire. They comprised simple gun towers with splayed embrasures for cannon, with guns in bombproof casemates and in open emplacements on the roof; they may have had a small defended enceinte or earthen rampart with guns in front.

For full details of survey report and archive plans contact the National Monuments record. (3)

Additional references (4-5)

A blockhouse was built at East Tilbury in 1539 and replaced by another one closer to the river in 1540. This was flooded by the sea and in ruins by 1735. (6)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : The Antiquaries journal : journal of the Society of Antiquaries of London
Source details : Saunders A. 1960. Tilbury Fort and the development of artillery fortification in the Thames Estuary
Page(s) : 152
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 40, 1960
Source Number : 2
Source : Externally held archive reference
Source details : A Map of South Hall in the Parish of East Tilbury in Essex, part of the lands belonging to Rochester Bridge, Surveyed in 1735 by C Stoane (Essex Record Office: T/M 528/2)
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Source Number : 3
Source : English Heritage field survey reports
Source details : English Heritage: Coalhouse Point Survey
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Source Number : 4
Source : Coalhouse Fort and the artillery defences at East Tilbury: a history and guide
Source details :
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 5
Source : Defending London's river
Source details :
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Source Number : 6
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : Heritage Gateway. 2009. Essex HER, East Tilbury Coalhouse Fort, [Accessed 22-APR-2009]
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Ruined by 1735
Monument End Date :
Monument Start Date : 1735
Monument Type : Artillery Fort, Blockhouse
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Tudor
Display Date : Built 1539 to 1541
Monument End Date : 1541
Monument Start Date : 1539
Monument Type : Blockhouse, Artillery Fort
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Tudor
Display Date : Disarmed 1553
Monument End Date : 1553
Monument Start Date : 1553
Monument Type : Blockhouse, Artillery Fort
Evidence : Documentary Evidence

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : EX 128
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 12707
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Essex)
External Cross Reference Number : 1756
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Essex)
External Cross Reference Number : 1757
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : TQ 67 NE 83
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 413479
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1375151
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1375151
Relationship type :

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : ENGLISH HERITAGE: COALHOUSE POINT SURVEY
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 2000-01-01
End Date : 2000-12-31
Associated Activities : LAND AT TILBURY FORT
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2010-01-01
End Date : 2010-12-31
Associated Activities : LAND AT TILBURY FORT
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2010-01-01
End Date : 2010-12-31