Rokesley Tower and Canons Gate, Western Outer Curtain Wall, Dover Castle, Kent, UK

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Comments (7)

John Latter on April 18, 2010

The Canons Gateway, located at the southern end of the Western Curtain Wall, is the vehicular entrance to Dover Castle . It is accessible from Canons Gate Road, a turning off of Castle Hill Road not far from the Victoria Park junction. The pedestrian entrance to the castle is via Constable`s Gateway to the north.

To the left of the Canons Gate entrance is Rokesley`s Tower, a D-type mural tower complete with Garderobe (a medieval latrine).

Further to the left, Fulbert`s Tower lies 80 yards north of Rokesley's Tower; out of view to the right is the Tudor Bulwark. A similar view to the above is shown in the 2007 Canons Gateway and Rokesley Tower photo.

Click to see the Canons Gate and Guardroom photo (taken from the other side of the gateway).

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 (William the Conqueror). 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.

Click to see the Interior of Rokesley`s Tower.

Extract from Castle Explorer's page on Dover Castle:

At the end of the eighteenth century, during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars with France, Colonel William Twiss continued the modernisation of (Dover) castle. Twiss completed the remodelling of the outer defences adding the huge Horseshoe Bastion, Hudson's Bastion, East Arrow Bastion and East Demi-Bastion (1) to provide extra gun positions on the eastern side, and constructing Constable`s Bastion for additional protection on the west.

Twiss further strengthened the Spur at the northern end of the castle, adding a redan or raised gun platform. By taking the roof of the keep and replacing it with massive brick vaults he was able to mount heavy artillery on the top. To help troop movements between castle and town defences, Twiss constructed Canon's Gateway. He filled every available space within the castle with barracks and storerooms, and even constructed underground cliff barracks.

Colonel Twiss (of the Royal Engineers) also argued for the construction of the Grand Shaft spiral triple-staircase as part of Dover's Napoleonic defenses on the Western Heights. Also see Shorncliffe Redoubt.

Dover Castle is an English Heritage site.

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) Bastion

A bastion is a structure projecting outward from the main enclosure of a fortification, situated in both corners of a straight wall (termed curtain), facilitating active defence against assaulting troops. It allows the defenders of the fort to cover adjacent bastions and curtains with defensive fire.

The bastion was designed to offer a full range on which to attack oncoming troops. Previous fortifications were of little use within a certain range. The bastion solved this problem. By using a cannon to cover the curtain side of the wall, the forward cannon could concentrate on oncoming targets.

John Latter / Jorolat

Dover Blog: The Psychology of a Small Town

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JBTHEMILKER on August 13, 2010

Question, Is this dry stone work or does it have mortar?

John Latter on August 13, 2010

JBTHEMILKER, on August 13th, 2010, said:

Question, Is this dry stone work or does it have mortar?

It has mortar, JB, as do the Roman and Saxon structures within the grounds of Dover Castle.


John Latter on January 6, 2011

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 in the town of Dover, England.

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

John Latter on January 7, 2011

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on April 8, 2010
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by John Latter
    • Camera: PENTAX Corporation PENTAX K100D
    • Taken on 2009/12/04 11:40:03
    • Exposure: 0.005s (1/200)
    • Focal Length: 23.00mm
    • F/Stop: f/8.000
    • ISO Speed: ISO200
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
    • No flash