Fulbert Tower and Debtors Prison, Western Outer Curtain Wall, Dover Castle, Kent, UK

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John Latter on April 4, 2010

Fulbert's Tower is the square tower in the centre of the photo; behind it is a house occupying what was once part of the extended Debtor's Prison (1). Click to see a rare view of Fulbert`s Tower, taken directly opposite from on top of the outer moat embankment.

Out of shot to the right is Rokesley Tower and the Canons` Gate entrance to Dover Castle.

The Peverell Gateway, with its round tower capped with a conical roof, is on the left of the outer Western Curtain Wall; between Peverell's and Fulbert's towers, parts of Gatton Tower and Hurst Tower (alt. Hirst's Tower) are visible (although Say`s Tower isn't).

The crenellated top of the Keep (or Great Tower) projects from behind the left-hand side of Fulbert's Tower, with the uncrenellated walls of the Inner Bailey below; part of the Georgian Sergeant Major`s House can also be seen.

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

In 1892, 750 copies of a book called, "Bygone Kent" were published, edited by Richard Stead, and with a chapter on Dover Castle written by E. Wollaston Knocker.

The following extract is from copy 94:

Fulbert of Dover was Lord of the Manor and Castle of Chilham in Kent, on condition that he kept one fort in repair. Hence the tower was first called Chilham, but its Deputy-Governor was one Chaldercot, and the tower later was called by his name. This tower had a small one as an appendage to it, which took its name from Hurst (ie Hurst's Tower, or Hirst's Tower), a village near Chilham, the rents of which were allotted to its repair and defence.

Near Fulbert's Tower was the Bodar's house. As sergeant-at-arms he was also gaoler of the adjoining prison.

For many centuries, and within the recollection of the present generation, it was used as a prison for debtors. These used to ring a bell near the outside of the Canon's Gate, and attract the attention of passers by, to obtain alms in a box placed close to the bell.

I'm wondering if E. Wollaston Knocker was copying from an earlier work because Hurst's Tower is some 70 yards away from Fulbert's Tower. Also, I haven't read the whole of his chapter on Dover Castle, but I did notice he consistently refers to Gatton, as in "Gatton's Tower", as Galton.

Abridged extract from the 'History of Kent' by William Henry Ireland (1829):

Fulbert de Dover's Tower was erected by Fulbert de Lucie, who accompanied William the Conquerer to England. Being appointed one of the knights to defend the fortress, by John de Fiennes, he assumed the name of Dover, and on his personal services being no longer required at the castle, retired to his baronial residence of Chilham: his successor, Hugh de Dover, his son, and Richard de Dover, a descendent of the latter, held the vast possessions of his progenitors: he ultimately retired to the abbey of Lesnes, which he had founded in 1179; and dying there, this famous name became extinct, when the estates passed, by the marriage of a female relative, to an illegitimate son of King John.

After Fulbert retired from his command, an officer named Calderscot held this tower, from whom it also derived the name of Calderscot's Tower.

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.

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.

(1) According to the 1916 book, "Annals of Dover", by John Bavington Jones, it was previously the Cinque Ports' Prison and subsequently "taken down in 1911 to make room for soldiers' quarters".

John Latter / Jorolat

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on December 30, 2009
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by John Latter
    • Camera: PENTAX Corporation PENTAX K100D
    • Taken on 2009/12/16 10:55:13
    • Exposure: 0.004s (1/250)
    • Focal Length: 43.00mm
    • F/Stop: f/10.000
    • ISO Speed: ISO200
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
    • No flash