Keep, or Great Tower, of Dover Castle and Constable's Gateway, Kent, UK

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John Latter on November 1, 2009

This is a re-issued view of Dover Castle Keep and Constable`s Tower (alt. Gate, or Gateway) taken at dusk on May 23rd, 2007.

The Great Tower, or Keep, is 83 feet high with walls 12 feet thick. Also note the Second World War 'dragon's teeth' anti-tank defenses on the embankment, left of center.

Abridged from The English Heritage Trail:

Guardian of the 'Gateway to England', Dover Castle displays a solid strength and determination that has obviously carried it through many troubled times. Proudly standing atop the White Cliffs, overlooking this busy port, Dover Castle has withstood the test of time remarkably well throughout its long and eventful history. Dover Castle, as it stands today, dates from the rebuilding work during Henry II's reign, but the site has been of vital importance since the Iron Age. The first castle at Dover was probably an Anglo-Saxon fortress and, on the arrival of William the Conqueror, the existing fortifications were improved with the building of an earthwork castle. This Norman 'motte' (mound) which supported the castle is today known as 'Castle Hill'.

Work began on Dover Castle in the latter part of the 12th century with the construction of the Keep (or Great Tower) - the largest in Britain - and is entered through a forebuilding more substantial than any other built before or since. At each corner of the Keep lies a buttress turret, and mid-way along each wall is a pilaster buttress. Four storeys high, the Keep comprises a basement, first floor, and a second floor that spans two storeys, the upper level of which is a mural gallery that can be seen today at the end of the Great Armour Hall. The second storey provided the royal accommodation, and the first floor, based on a similar plan to the second, contained rooms with a much less elaborate decor. All floors were connected by staircases set in the north and south corner turrets.

Providing the entry staircase, and two chapels, is the magnificent forebuilding. It is interesting to note the decor of the chapels - the lower chapel of a Gothic style, and the upper chapel late Norman and richly decorated. From outside of the Keep, the significance of the three-towered forebuilding can be fully appreciated, as it can be seen travelling along the eastern wall of the Keep and turning at the corner of the southern wall. It was around this stronghold that the concentric castle was developed and work was completed mid-13th century.

Dover Castle appears in "Dover in World War Two: 1942", a ten minute British Ministry of Information film, released by the US Office of War Information, and narrated by the American journalist, Edward R. Murrow.

John Latter / Jorolat

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John Latter on August 10, 2010

John Latter, on November 1, 2009, said:

The Great Tower, or Keep, is 83 feet high with walls 12 feet thick._

This should read, "with walls 21 feet thick"

Also note the Second World War 'dragon's teeth' anti-tank defenses on the embankment, left of center.

See the Dragons Teeth Anti-Tank Obstacles, The Spur photo.

There's also a new image of the Constable Gateway.

John Latter on August 10, 2010

Dover Castle is a Grade I Listed Building (1).

The following is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence (PSI licence number C2010002016):

Building Details:

Building Name: DOVER CASTLE

Parish: DOVER

District: DOVER

County: KENT



LBS Number: 177823

Grade: I

Date Listed: 07/03/1974

Date Delisted:

NGR: TR3249141696

Listing Text:


TR 3241 1/47

TR 34 SW 7/47



Norman keep C.1155 of rag-stone ashlar blooks picked out flints with Caen stone dressings. Around the keep are ranges of C18 (=18th Century) houses of 2 to 3 storeys ashlar with a flint galleting. Round headed windows. Surrounding these ranges are 2 concentric rings of walls and towers dating from Mediaeval times. Beneath the castle are a whole series of subterranean passages dating from the C13 and improved for defence during the Napoleonic period. Ancient Monument. (Abridged).

Listing NGR: TR3249141696

Source: English Heritage. Click to see photos of Listed Buildings and English Heritage locations in the town of Dover, England.

(1) Grade I: buildings "of exceptional interest, sometimes considered to be internationally important".

John Latter on November 15, 2010

Click to see the North flank of Constable Tower (or Gateway) whose caption states:

This entrance to Dover Castle, originally via a drawbridge, is one of two currently in use (the other being Canons Gateway) .

The Tower is as big as many other castles in its own right but is only a gateway to Dover Castle proper. It was built by John de Fiennes under William the Conqueror and for this reason was once known as Fiennes' Tower.

John Latter on January 22, 2011

Also see a night-time view of the above photo:

Guardian of the Road: The Great Tower of Dover Castle at Night

John Latter on March 20, 2013

The photo at the top of this page also appears on the Pinterest Dover Castle board at:

The Keep, or Great Tower, of Dover Castle and Constable Gateway, Kent, UK

John Latter on November 19, 2013

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on November 1, 2009
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by John Latter
    • Camera: PENTAX Corporation PENTAX Optio 33LF
    • Taken on 2007/05/23 18:45:26
    • Exposure: 0.005s (1/200)
    • Focal Length: 9.60mm
    • F/Stop: f/6.200
    • ISO Speed: ISO100
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
    • No flash