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Portland Castle

Hob Uid: 451663
Location :
Dorset
Weymouth And Portland
Portland
Grid Ref : SY6846207435
Summary : Portland artillery castle was built by Henry VIII on the northern shore of the Isle of Portland as part of his network of coastal defences to protect against French and Spanish attacks. It was one of a pair of coastal fortifications, together with Sandsfoot Castle, which provided protection for the anchorage between Weymouth and Portland Bay. The two castles are positioned on opposite sides of the bay and are visible from each other. The construction of the fortification followed the advice of a Commission set up by Henry VIII in 1539, in response to a possible French invasion. It was probably completed by late 1540 and in service by early 1541. During the English Civil War the castle was the scene of fighting and was seized by both Parliamentarian and Royalist forces. Afterwards the castle became an ordnance store and then a prison. Between 1816-70 the castle became a private residence, however in the Second World War it was again used for military purposes. It was an ordnance depot and may have had other coastal defences added to it. Portland Castle has a central citadel which is fan-shaped in plan. The castle is constructed of ashlar dressed Portland Stone producing a 'rounded' external appearance. The citadel includes a single storey gun room facing across the harbour. The gun room was originally roofed and has embrasures for a further battery of five guns protected by an embattled parapet. This also shielded a second battery situated on the roof of the accommodation block. To the south and south east of the citadel was an outer yard which contained two gun platforms. Portland Castle is in the care of English Heritage.
More information : (SY 68457435) Portland Castle [NR] (1)

Portland Castle, at the north end of the Island (SY 684743), was built by Henry VIII as part of his coastal defence system against the threat of invasion by France and was in use late in 1540 (L. and P. Henry VIII, xv, 221; no. 502, 2). It cost £4964. 19s. 101/4d. (B.M., Harl. MSS 353, f. 100 v). On plan the castle forms a sector of a circle with a single-storey gun-room backed by a two-storey building with wings radiating east and north west from a central hall. The gun-room has embrasures for a battery of five guns; the embattled parapet over the gun-room protected a second battery and the middle part of the two-storey building could take a third battery also behind an embattled parapet. A yard on the south side of the castle, bounded by a wall formerly with a ditch outside it, contains gun platforms and a 17th-century building which on a plan of 1716 (Min. of P.B. & Wks. 95/2) comprises a brewhouse and stable with an extension to the east forming a sutler's house. Outer defences are now represented by one length of bank on the south east side, 30 yds. long, 16 yds. wide and rising to a maximum height of 4 ft.; it was probably part of these outer defences which was described in a survey of 1623 (B.M Harl. MS. 1326 ff. 726-75) as an 'ould trencher without the wall of the castle' and was to be 'throwne downe'. At the same time the 'Moate' was to be repaired; this was presumably the ditch against the wall of the yard which was still indicated on a survey of 1816 (PRO Wks 31/290) but is now completely obliterated.

The castle was the scene of some fighting during the Civil War, after which it was used as an Ordnance store and a prison. In 1660 a new entrance gateway was erected but by 1680 the castle was reported as being ruinous; restoration was carried out under Queen Anne in 1702 (Cal. Treasury Books, XVII pt. i, 108). In the first half of the 19th century it was modernised for residential occupation after being granted to the Rev. John Manning in 1816; he was succeeded by Capt. Charles Manning in 1834. After standing empty for some years the castle has recently been restored by the Ministry for Public Building and Works. (2-5)

No change. (6)

History of the castle. (7-8)

The castle defences and serviceable ordnance following a survey by the Duke of Marlborough in 1715 were deemed so poor that £408-3-10 was required to repair the defences and a further £61-4-0 for the guns. Of the 17 guns in the castle, only one 4 pounder was in good condition. (9)

There is a plan of the castle and adjacent ruined work dated 1738 in the Public Record Office. (10)

Coastal fortification. c 1540, one of Henry VIII's castles. Total cost of £4964-19-10d. Portland ashlar, lead and slate roof. Circular keep enclosing octagonal hall, flanked by wings at an obtuse angle, and enclosing a gun platform at upper level, contained in a segmental wall to seaward. A short cranked passageway gives access to the octagonal hall from the W side; on each side of the hall a large rectangular room at each level, that at ground floor to the SE being the former kitchen. The straight enclosing walls have various rectangular openings to splayed jambs, with a continuous weathered string at mid height, and a further string immediately below the bold segmental parapet with wide splayed gun ports. This detail is carried round the upper level of the roofed quarters. The seaward segment is set on a wide splayed glacis, and has 5 segmental-headed deep double-splayed gun ports, below the weathered string at the segmental parapet with 4 gun ports. The gun platform, behind the parapet with its walkway, is in stone flags. Interior: the ground floor has stone flags, and the upper floor is boarded, carried on heavy floor joists and beams, some of these are original. Walls are ashlar, unpainted. The octagonal hall is sub- divided at each level by timber and plaster partitions. The kitchen, to the right, has very deep splayed openings, to former gun-loops, with flat straight-sided inner arches. The great thickness of walls is shown by the dept of reveals to all openings. Various arched fireplaces; stone stairs with flat-slab stone ceilings. Portland Castle was one of a pair with Sandsfoot Castle in Weymouth, across the harbour and c 3km to the N. Portland originally had a defensive moat. In 1623 it had 13 guns, but by the time of the Civil War there were 21 guns. The Castle was held by the Royalists, but yielded in 1646. From 1816 it was occupied by the Manning family, and the adjacent Captain's House was built. In 1870 it reverted to the Crown, and in 1984 became an English Heritage Property in Care. (11)

Additional references. (12-13)

Listed by Cathcart King. (14)

Notes on the state of the castle in 1623. (15)

"Portland Bulwark" was built in 1540 as is one of the smallest of the network of Henrician castles. Its defensive position is solely coastal facing and it lacks all round defences. (16)

This site has a diverse and fascinating history beginning with its construction by Henry VIII to protect the anchorage from French and Spanish attack. It was involved in the English Civil War and later in the First and Second World Wars as a seaplane base and for the D-Day preparations respectively. (17)

Remains include: lime kilns and building layers relating to the construction of the castle, Civil War remains in the moat and prehistoric levels with flint and chert artefacts (Bronze Age). (18)

English Heritage produced an updated edition of their guidebook to Portland Castle in 2000. (19)

Results of tree-ring dating on a single timber from Portland Castle, published in 2000. The beam in the Great Hall was thought to date to the original construction of the castle, known to have taken place during the reign of Henry VIII, around AD 1538 - 40. Two cores were taken from the beam. The heartwood-sapwood boundary was evident on both cores, and the most likely felling date range for the timber was found to be AD 1503 - 35. This shows that the beam in the Great Hall is almost certainly original, and that it may possibly have been cut a few years before being used. Analysis of further timbers from this site may allow clarification of this interpretation. (20)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 1:10000 1974
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Source Number : 2
Source : Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Antiquarian Field Club
Source details :
Page(s) : 34
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Vol(s) : 35 (1914)
Source Number : 11
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : Weymouth and Portland 17/05/1993
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Vol(s) : 969-1
Source Number : 12
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : 25/09/1997
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Source Number : 13
Source : A teacher's handbook to Portland Castle
Source details :
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Source Number : 14
Source : Castellarium anglicanum : an index and bibliography of the castles in England, Wales and the islands. Volume I : Anglesey - Montgomery
Source details :
Page(s) : 127
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Vol(s) : 1
Source Number : 15
Source : Fort : the international journal of fortification and military architecture
Source details :
Page(s) : 46-7
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Vol(s) : 16, 1988
Source Number : 16
Source : The Castles of Henry VIII
Source details :
Page(s) : 22
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Source Number : 17
Source : English Heritage Visitor Handbook 2009/10
Source details :
Page(s) : 114
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Source Number : 18
Source : Stewart Brown Associates [assessment & evaluation reports]
Source details :
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Source Number : 19
Source : Portland Castle, Dorset [guide]
Source details :
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Source Number : 20
Source : Tree-ring analysis of a timber from Portland Castle, Castleton, Dorset, Centre for Archaeology Reports 62/2000
Source details :
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Source Number : 3
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Ministry of Works. 1965. Portland Castle Official Guide
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Source Number : 4
Source : An inventory of historical monuments in the County of Dorset. Volume two : south-east [in three parts]
Source details :
Page(s) : 250-2
Figs. :
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Vol(s) : Part 2
Source Number : 5
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) : 82
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Vol(s) : 3
Source Number : 6
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 JB 07-JUL-80
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Source Number : 7
Source : The history of the King's Works, volume 4 : 1485-1660 (Part 2)
Source details :
Page(s) : 399, 404-5, 466-70
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Source Number : 8
Source : Coast defences of England and Wales, 1856-1956
Source details :
Page(s) : 228-9
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Source Number : 9
Source : Notes and queries for Somerset and Dorset
Source details :
Page(s) : 155-7
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Vol(s) : 30 (1976)
Source Number : 10
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Maps and Plans of the Public Record Office 1967 303
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Besieged 1646
Monument End Date : 1646
Monument Start Date : 1646
Monument Type : Artillery Castle
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : After 1649
Monument End Date :
Monument Start Date : 1649
Monument Type : Prison, Ordnance Store
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Between 1816-70
Monument End Date : 1870
Monument Start Date : 1816
Monument Type : House
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Tudor
Display Date : Built between 1539-40
Monument End Date : 1540
Monument Start Date : 1539
Monument Type : Artillery Castle, Artillery Fort
Evidence : Structure, Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Second World War
Display Date : World War II
Monument End Date : 1945
Monument Start Date : 1939
Monument Type : Coast Artillery Battery, Coastal Battery, Ordnance Store
Evidence : Structure

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : DO 133
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 22964
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 381900
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : NBR Index Number
External Cross Reference Number : 106208
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : EH Property Number
External Cross Reference Number : 303
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : DoB Anti Invasion Database UID
External Cross Reference Number : S0013735
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : K981918
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : K981058
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : K981924
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : K981928
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : K981914
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SY 67 SE 1
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 1420378
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1413734
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 451558
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1361648
Relationship type :

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : FIELD OBSERVATION ON SY 67 SE 1
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1980-07-07
End Date : 1980-07-07
Associated Activities : PORTLAND CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1990-01-01
End Date : 1990-12-31
Associated Activities : PROPOSED MEDICAL/DENTAL CENTRE, HMS OSPREY
Activity type : DESK BASED ASSESSMENT
Start Date : 1994-01-01
End Date : 1994-12-31
Associated Activities : PROPOSED MEDICAL/DENTAL CENTRE, HMS OSPREY
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1994-01-01
End Date : 1994-12-31
Associated Activities : NEW BARRACKMASTER'S WORKSHOP, RNAS PORTLAND
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1995-01-01
End Date : 1995-12-31
Associated Activities : THE DEFENCE OF BRITAIN PROJECT
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1995-04-01
End Date : 2002-03-01
Associated Activities : INVESTIGATION BY RCHME/EH ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Activity type : ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1995-11-14
End Date : 1995-11-14
Associated Activities : PORTLAND CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1999-01-01
End Date : 2001-12-31
Associated Activities : THE GREAT HALL, PORTLAND CASTLE
Activity type : DENDROCHRONOLOGICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 2000-01-01
End Date : 2000-12-31
Associated Activities : PORTLAND CASTLE: ENTRANCE GATEWAY/HIGH PERIMETER WALL
Activity type : ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Start Date : 2002-01-01
End Date : 2002-12-31
Associated Activities : LAND AT OSPREY QUAY
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2002-01-01
End Date : 2002-12-31
Associated Activities : GOVERNOR'S GARDEN, PORTLAND CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2003-01-01
End Date : 2003-12-31
Associated Activities : PORTLAND CASTLE: THE SEA WALL
Activity type : ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Start Date : 2003-01-01
End Date : 2003-12-31
Associated Activities : PORTLAND CASTLE, CASTLETOWN
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2005-01-01
End Date : 2005-12-31
Associated Activities : PORTLAND CASTLE
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2007-01-01
End Date : 2007-12-31
Associated Activities : ISLE OF PORTLAND
Activity type : DESK BASED ASSESSMENT
Start Date : 2008-01-01
End Date : 2008-12-31
Associated Activities : PORTLAND CASTLE, PORTLAND BILL
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 2012-01-01
End Date : 2012-12-31
Associated Activities : PORTLAND CASTLE SIGNAGE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2012-01-01
End Date : 2012-12-31