Rokesley Tower and Garderobe, Western Outer Curtain Wall of Dover Castle, Kent, UK

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John Latter on December 30, 2009

Rokesley's Tower is located towards the southern end of the outer western curtain wall; its proximity to the Canons Gateway entrance to Dover Castle, just a few yards to the right, can be seen in the Canons Gateway and Rokesley Tower photo. Further north, the next tower in the curtain wall is Fulbert`s Tower.

There are two small openings on the wall to the left of Rokesley's Tower. The first is the obvious "arrow-slit", the second is a square opening at the bottom left-hand corner of the shadow cast by the tower upon the wall. On the other side of Rokesley's Tower, a plaque above the entrance to the short passage containing both openings says, "Garderobe. Medieval Latrine":

In English a garderobe (or privy) has come to mean a primitive toilet in a castle or other medieval building, usually a simple hole discharging to the outside. A garderobe tower is tower specifically constructed to house such privies, usually projecting from the outer wall of a castle. (1)

Extract from "The History of the Town and Port of Dover and of Dover Castle (With a Short Account of the Cinque Ports)", Volume 2. Dedicated by the Reverend John Lyon, Minister of "Saint Mary`s", on April 21st, 1814, and published the same year:

Rokesley's Tower

This was a circular tower, built by Albrincis, and it has been called by his name; but the tower, in which he commanded, is on the north-east side of the Castle (see Avranches Tower). Several of the towers had open fronts, and without the least accommodation for the watchmen, when they were not on duty. This obliged them to build houses, near their stations; and Thomas de Rokesley, of Lenham, had a house belonging to this tower, near the old gate (Canon Gate or Monk Gate, close to the present Canons Gate entrance).

He probably descended from Malerinus de Rokesley, who settled at North Cray, in Kent, in the reign of William the First. It was the custom of those, who commanded in the different towers, to have their arms cut in stone, and fixed in the wall, to shew from what family they descended; and it is very probable that they were removed; either at the decease, or at the resignation of the commander, as vey few of them have reached our time.

Thomas de Rokesley's arms were - Argent, a fesse, between three etoiles.

Also see the Constable`s Barbican from on top of Rokesley Tower photo.

Extracts from "Dover Castle" by R. Allen Brown (Her Majesty's Stationery Office, HMSO 1974) (Abridged):

To the north (of Canons` Gate) the towered outer curtain leads off along the crest of the original Iron Age earthen rampart to enclose the whole perimeter of the castle. The appearance of these outer defences was considerably altered in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by the deepening of the great ditch in front of them, by the addition of an outer parapet for defence by rifle fire, the further addition of various brick caponiers (alt. caponniers) and subterranean works and, above all, by the regrettable cutting down to a greater or lesser extent of most of the mural towers, many of which were turned into gun platforms, towers and wall alike being earthed up on the inside.

The entire curtain on the west side from the cliff's edge to Peverell's Gate is part of Henry III's work with some modern rebuilding of the wall itself towards Peverell. Fulbert of Dover's Tower is said to have been rebuilt by Edward IV in the later fifteenth century, and is both rectangular and different in appearance from its thirteenth-century neighbours with a 'keyhole'-type gunport in its northern face. The other towers in this section are semicircular in plan and rise from battered and/or spurred plinths, the three northernmost, Hurst, Say and Gatton, still forming an impressive thirteenth-century trinity to guard an original approach from the south to Henry Ill's new Constable`s Gate and Constable Barbican. Peverell's Gate or Tower marks the juncture of the work of King John and Henry III, and is itself a composite structure of both reigns.

(1) Extract from the Wikipedia entry for Garderobe.

Click to see all photos of Dover Castle, one of Dover's English Heritage sites.

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

Dover Blog: The Psychology of a Small Town

This is the Images of Dover website: click on any red or blue "John Latter" link to access the Entry Page.

John Latter on April 13, 2010

Click to see the Interior of Rokesley`s Tower.

John Latter on February 7, 2013

Click to see the Canons Gate and Rokesley Tower at Night photo.

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on December 29, 2009
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by John Latter
    • Camera: PENTAX Corporation PENTAX K100D
    • Taken on 2009/12/14 13:10:41
    • Exposure: 0.003s (1/320)
    • Focal Length: 31.00mm
    • F/Stop: f/8.000
    • ISO Speed: ISO200
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
    • No flash