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Historic England Research Records

St Catherines Castle

Hob Uid: 432263
Location :
Cornwall
Fowey
Grid Ref : SX1187950939
Summary : St Catherine's Castle was built by Henry VIII between 1538 and 1540 as part of his network of coastal defences constructed due to heightened threats of attack from France and Spain in the immediate aftermath of the Reformation. It is situated on the tip of a rocky headland, St Catherine's Point, at the entrance to the River Fowey estuary on the south coast of Cornwall.The two-storey blockhouse has a D-shaped plan and was built on a prepared platform levelled into the rock with slate rubble stone walls up to 1.35 metres thick. On the ground floor are three almost semi-circular gun ports, a fireplace in the south west wall and a small guard chamber within the entrance. The first floor has five narrow windows with semicircular heads and a winder stair, which originally ascended to a former parapet walk. In 1786 the blockhouse held six canons but in 1815, following the Napoleonic Wars, it had been abandoned. The curtilage of the blockhouse, as defined by its curtain wall, was refurbished in 1855 to form a gun battery during the Crimean War. A levelled platform, just below the blockhouse, accommodated a Crimean War battery. In 1887, this was armed with two 64-pounder rifled muzzle-loading guns manned by Artillery Volunteers and retained as a practice battery. By the end of the 19th century it was obsolete and subsequently abandoned. It was again modified and re-armed in 1940 as an emplacement in a more extensive Second World War gun battery occupying St Catherine's Point. This included a 4.7-inch naval gun, a large concrete protective shelter, an ammunition store and concrete pillbox. The site is in the care of English Heritage.
More information : (SX 11875093) St Catherine's Castle (NR) (remains of) (NAT) (1)

The remains of a small harbour defence castle built as part of Henry VIII's South Coast fortifications in 1539. It was restored in 1885. HHR Grade 2*. (2)

The remains of the castle consist of a D-shaped block-house, containing an original doorway, and perimeter walling.
See photograph. (3)

Additional reference. (4)

St Catherine's Castle consists of the remains of a small harbour defence castle built as part of Henry VIII's South Coast fortifications between 1538 and 1540, including a blockhouse and bastioned curtain wall. It is situated on the tip of a rocky headland, St Catherine's Point, at the entrance to the River Fowey estuary on the south coast of Cornwall. The network of coastal defences were constructed due to heightened threats of attack from France and Spain in the immediate aftermath of the Reformation. The two-storey blockhouse has a D-shaped plan and was built on a prepared platform levelled into the rock with slate rubble stone walls up to 1.35 metres thick. On the ground floor are three almost semi-circular gun ports, a fireplace in the south west wall and a small guard chamber within the entrance. The first floor has five narrow windows with semicircular heads and a winder stair, which originally ascended to a former parapet walk. In 1786 the blockhouse held six canons but in 1815, following the Napoleonic Wars, it had been abandoned. The curtilage of the blockhouse, as defined by its curtain wall, was refurbished in 1855 to form a gun battery during the Crimean War. A levelled platform, just below the blockhouse, accommodated a Crimean War battery. In 1887, this was armed with two 64-pounder rifled muzzle-loading guns manned by Artillery Volunteers and retained as a practice battery. By the end of the 19th century it was obsolete and subsequently abandoned. It was again modified and re-armed in 1940 as an emplacement in a more extensive Second World War gun battery occupying St Catherine's Point. This included a 4.7-inch naval gun, a large concrete protective shelter, an ammunition store and concrete pillbox.
Please refer to this source for a very detailed description of the site. (5)

St Catherines Castle is an English Heritage property. (6)

The blockhouse has 6 gunports. (7)

A D-shaped two storey blockhouse was built between 1538 and 1540 by Henry VIII to strengthen the harbour defences. It replaced two earlier blockhouses on opposite sides of the estuary at Fowey and Polruan. It had splayed gun ports on the ground and first floors and a parapet walk flanked by high battlements. A curtain wall and rectangular bastion was added before 1734 and modified in 1855 during the Crimean War. A battery for two guns was added at this time with a magazine for storing ammunition. During World War II St Catherine's Point became a gun battery and observation post. (8)

A brief history and description. (9)


Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : 1:10,000 1976
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Source Number : 2
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : Restormel 11/03/1974
Page(s) : 15
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Vol(s) : 868
Source Number : 3
Source : The English castle
Source details :
Page(s) : 110
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Source Number : 4
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : 11/02/1969
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Source Number : 5
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : 12/12/1995
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Source Number : 6
Source : The English Heritage visitors' handbook 1998-99
Source details :
Page(s) : 85
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Source Number : 7
Source : Fort : the international journal of fortification and military architecture
Source details :
Page(s) : 83
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 4, 1977
Source Number : 8
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : Cornwalls Arcaheological Heritage. 2009. St Catherine's Castle, [Accessed 21-MAY-2009]
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 9
Source : Heritage unlocked: guide to free sites in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly
Source details :
Page(s) : 42-45
Figs. :
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Vol(s) :

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Abandoned 1815
Monument End Date : 1815
Monument Start Date : 1815
Monument Type : Blockhouse
Evidence : Extant Structure
Monument Period Name : Tudor
Display Date : Built between 1538 and 1540
Monument End Date : 1540
Monument Start Date : 1538
Monument Type : Blockhouse, Curtain Wall, Bastion, Loopholed Wall
Evidence : Extant Building, Structure
Monument Period Name : Victorian
Display Date : Altered in 1855
Monument End Date : 1855
Monument Start Date : 1855
Monument Type : Blockhouse, Magazine, Coastal Battery
Evidence : Extant Building, Structure
Monument Period Name : Victorian
Display Date : Abandoned end 19th C
Monument End Date : 1900
Monument Start Date : 1887
Monument Type : Coastal Battery
Evidence : Extant Structure
Monument Period Name : Second World War
Display Date : World War II modified
Monument End Date : 1945
Monument Start Date : 1939
Monument Type : Pillbox (Variant), Coastal Battery, Observation Post, Magazine, Pillbox
Evidence : Extant Building, Demolished Building, Structure

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : CO 276
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 15408
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 70711
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : EH Property Number
External Cross Reference Number : 308
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SX 15 SW 10
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 1427666
Relationship type :
Associated Monuments : 1429217
Relationship type :

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SX 15 SW 10
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1969-02-11
End Date : 1969-02-11
Associated Activities : Primary, ST CATHERINE'S CASTLE, FOWEY
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1998-01-01
End Date : 1998-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, ST. CATHERINE'S POINT/COVINGTON WOOD
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 2012-01-01
End Date : 2012-12-31