HeritageGateway - Home
Site Map
Text size: A A A
You are here: Home > > > > Historic England research records Result
Historic England research recordsPrintable version | About Historic England research records

Historic England Research Records

Upnor Castle

Hob Uid: 416743
Location :
Medway
Frindsbury Extra
Grid Ref : TQ7585970573
Summary : The site of Upnor Castle, an artillery castle situated on the north-western bank of the River Medway which survives in the form of standing buildings, ruined structures and earthworks. It is constructed of ragstone faced with coursed ashlar blocks with some red brick. The castle was built in two main phases, initially between 1559 and 1567 to a design by Sir Richard Lee. The second phase of construction, dating to between 1599 and 1601, aimed mainly to improve the landward defences of the castle, and a remodelling of the frontage to form a bastion. The castle was attacked by the Dutch during the Raid on the Medway (1584349), the LOYAL LONDON (1033766), ROYAL JAMES (1179931) and ROYAL OAK (1179971) being sunk to protect the castle. Fire from the castle sank several Dutch long boats (1534250).During the 18th century, the castle's accommodation was extended by the construction of a new barrack block and associated storage buildings. The castle and its depot continued to supply munitions to the navy until 1827, when it was fitted out as an ordnance laboratory. During World War II the castle served as part of the Magazine Establishment. After 1945, it passed out of military use and was opened to the public, and is now in the care of English Heritage. It is also a Listed Building and Scheduled Ancient Monument. Upnor Castle was mapped from aerial photographs as part of the English Heritage: Hoo Peninsula Landscape Project.
More information : [TQ 7585 7057] CASTLE [G.T.] (1)

In 1560 Richard Watts was appointed to erect a Bulwark at Upnor, on the western bank of the Medway opposite the Chatham dockyard, "for the savegard of our Navy." (2). It took four years to complete.

Upnor Castle is built of well coursed Kentish ragstone. It consists of a rectangular courtyard, defended by a thick curtain wall and a wide irregular ditch, with tall towers (at the NE and SE corners) and a large triangular bastion or battery (on the east) projecting into the river. The main entrance is a gatehouse on the western side and there is a sally port in the northern curtain. The main building occupies the eastern part of the courtyard, but it has been so much altered that its original lay-out is uncertain. Alterations, in brick, were made to the gatehouse and north tower about 1653 and round windows were inserted in the east front in the 18th century. In 1586 an iron chain "to cross the river over against Upnor Castle with timber work on both sides of the river" is first mentioned. (3).

This chain is frequently mentioned and it was broken through in 1667 when the Dutch fleet sailed up the Medway. See AO/58/56/1. (2-4)

Additional references. (5-8)

A post-medieval dockyard fort and magazine, in the process of being converted into a maritime museum, at the time of writing in 1951. (9)

The castle, in good condition and as described, was described as being under the care of the Ministry of Works and no longer a maritime museum at the time of writing in 1964. See postcard view of Castle. (10)

Official guide-book giving history, plans, and photos. (11)

Upnor Castle, Grade I. Fort 1559-67 to designs by Sir Richard Lee, enlarged 1599-1601 to designs by Arthur Gregory and an Italian engineer surnamed Baptist. Converted into magazine, 1668, Ordnance Laboratory 1827 and part of the Naval Armament Supply Department in the late 19th century.

Upnor Castle is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and is in the care of the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission, as recorded in 1986. (For full description see list) (12)

Additional bibliography. (13-20)

Scheduled. (21)

On the second floor of the south tower of the Gatehouse, bomb damage in 1941 revealed a drawing of a ship. The spritsail topmast suggests a date of around 1700. Traces of possible earlier decoration of black bands and a stencilled strapwork pattern also exist in an adjacent guardroom. (22)

Additional reference. (23)

The castle was mapped from aerial photographs taken in 2007 as part of aerial photographs as part of the English Heritage: Hoo Peninsula Landscape Project.(24)

The Dutch attacked Upnor during the Raid on the Medway: after breaking through the chain on Wednesday 12 June, they anchored prior to an attack the following day on the LOYAL LONDON, ROYAL JAMES and ROYAL OAK, all sunk off the castle as blockships. (25)

The London Gazette noted that: ' . . . they were so warmly entertained by Major Scot, who commanded there, and on the other side by Sir Edward Spragg, from the Battery at the Shoare, that after very much Dammage received by them in the shattering of their ships, in sinking severall of their Long Boats manned out by them, in the great number of their Men kill'd, and some Prisoners taken, they were at the last forced to retire . . . ' (26)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1931-8
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : Calendar of State Papers Domestic
Source details : Edward, Mary and Elizabeth, 1547-80, Elizabeth I, Vol.16, No.28
Page(s) : 172
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 11
Source : Upnor Castle, Kent
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 12
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : Medway, 14-NOV-1986
Page(s) : 18
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1797
Source Number : 13
Source : The Archaeological Journal
Source details : AD Saunders
Page(s) : 276-8
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 126, 1969
Source Number : 14
Source : A handbook of Kent's defences from 1540 until 1945
Source details :
Page(s) : 12
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 15
Source : Upnor Castle, Kent
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 16
Source : Upnor Castle [guide]
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 17
Source : The English castle
Source details :
Page(s) : 111
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 18
Source : The history of the King's Works, volume 4 : 1485-1660 (Part 2)
Source details :
Page(s) : 400, 403, 407, 410, 411, 414, 478-82
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 19
Source : West Kent and the Weald
Source details :
Page(s) : 590
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 20
Source : List of ancient monuments in England: Volume 1, Northern England; Volume 2, Southern England; Volume 3, East Anglia and the Midlands
Source details :
Page(s) : 112
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 2
Source Number : 3
Source : Calendar of State Papers Domestic
Source details : Elizabeth I, 1581-90, Vol.186, No.44
Page(s) : 304
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 21
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 22
Source : Our painted past : wall paintings of English Heritage
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 23
Source : Kent's Defence Heritage
Source details : Gazetteer Part 2: KD12
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 24
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : Next Perspectives PGA Tile Ref: TQ7570 21-APR-2007
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 25
Source : The Dutch in the Medway
Source details :
Page(s) : PASSIM
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 26
Source : London Gazette
Source details : Thursday, June 13, to Monday, June 17, 1667, No.165
Page(s) : 2
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 4
Source : Archaeologia Cantiana : being contributions to the history and archaeology of Kent
Source details : BH St J O'Neil and S Evans
Page(s) : 01-Nov
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 65, 1952
Source Number : 5
Source : The Antiquities of England and Wales
Source details :
Page(s) : 112-3
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 3
Source Number : 6
Source : CASTLES OF ENGLAND
Source details :
Page(s) : 53-5
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : I
Source Number : 7
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : 'Old Rochester' No.29, 1930
Page(s) : 45
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 8
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Oppenheim M. 1896. History of the Administration of the Royal Navy 1509-1660
Page(s) : 150-1, 156, 211, 213, 299, 367
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 9
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 AC 16-NOV-51
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 10
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F2 FGA 02-NOV-64
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Built 1559 to 1567
Monument End Date : 1567
Monument Start Date : 1559
Monument Type : Artillery Castle
Evidence : Extant Building, Structure
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Additions 1599 to 1601
Monument End Date : 1601
Monument Start Date : 1599
Monument Type : Artillery Castle, Bastion
Evidence : Extant Building, Structure
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Attacked in Medway Raid 1667
Monument End Date : 1667
Monument Start Date : 1667
Monument Type : Artillery Castle
Evidence : Extant Building, Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : C18 Additions
Monument End Date : 1800
Monument Start Date : 1701
Monument Type : Barracks, Armament Depot, Ordnance Store
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : 1827
Monument End Date : 1827
Monument Start Date : 1827
Monument Type : Laboratory
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : From 1891
Monument End Date : 1891
Monument Start Date : 1891
Monument Type : Proof Range, Armament Depot
Evidence : Extant Building, Structure
Monument Period Name : Second World War
Display Date : World War II
Monument End Date : 1945
Monument Start Date : 1939
Monument Type : Armament Depot, Magazine
Evidence : Extant Building

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : KE 171
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Guardianship Number
External Cross Reference Number : 625
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 27007
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 172886
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : EH Property Number
External Cross Reference Number : 227
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Kent)
External Cross Reference Number : TQ 77 SE 1195
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Unified Designation System UID
External Cross Reference Number : 1204365
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : TQ 77 SE 4
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 1543146
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1584707
Relationship type : General association

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON TQ 77 SE 4
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1951-11-16
End Date : 1951-11-16
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON TQ 77 SE 4
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1964-11-02
End Date : 1964-11-02
Associated Activities : Primary, UPNOR CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1993-01-01
End Date : 1993-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, UPNOR CASTLE, UPPER UPNOR
Activity type : ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1997-01-01
End Date : 1997-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, UPNOR CASTLE GARDENS
Activity type : DENDROCHRONOLOGICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 2008-01-01
End Date : 2008-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, ENGLISH HERITAGE: HOO PENINSULA LANDSCAPE PROJECT NMP
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 2010-09-01
End Date : 2012-03-01
Associated Activities : Primary, NHPP NAVAL BATTLEFIELDS PROJECT
Activity type : DESK BASED ASSESSMENT
Start Date : 2012-01-01
End Date : 2013-12-31