Guardian of the Road, Great Tower Keep of Dover Castle at Night, Kent, UK

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John Latter on January 14, 2011

This is the Classic View of Dover Castle which in daytime shows both the Keep (or Great Tower) and the Constable`s Gateway (part of the Western Outer Curtain Wall).

The Constable's Gate (alt. Constable's Tower) is there, of course, but its easy to miss at first glance because the floodlights used to illuminate it at night are far less powerful than those of the Keep.

The western dimly-lit western outline of the Gateway is right-of-centre, directly above the two street lamps. The slightly brighter triangle at the bottom appears seperated from the rest of tower above because of the dark "bar" of the drawbridge.

The cluster of small dots to the left of the top of the tower are a window in the main building: no doubt someone is looking out through a new-fangled looking-device and yelling, "Gadzooks! Yonder peasant hath escaped ye Towne Walle - call out ye Guarde!"

The lampposts at bottom-left are illuminating part of Castle Hill Road (the A258) and only hint at this being a snow-covered landscape (sufficently deep in places to deter any vehicles from appearing and ruining the 30 second exposure).

The nearest lamp-post marks where Connaught Road comes up from the town from the right. Just before the junction, the entrances to Connaught Park and the Zig Zags Park are on either side of Connaught Road.

The further lamppost is where Constable`s Road leads up to the gateway drawbridge.

Hidden in the darkness to the left of the street lamps is The Spur with its "Dragon`s Teeth" anti-tank defences (Second World War).

At top-left is the north-western face of Dover Castle's Keep, or Great Tower.

The Norman Keep is "83 feet (25.3m) high and just under 100 feet (30m) square, with walls up to 21 feet (6.5m) thick... (it was) designed by Henry II’s architect ‘Maurice the Engineer’ (or mason) and built between 1180 and 1185" (see below).

Half-way down the Keep on its north-eastern face (on the left) is an end-view of the Forebuilding which has been described as, "...more substantial than any other built before or since...": see the Forebuilding of the Great Tower photo.

Below the Keep are the uncrenellated (ie flat-topped) towers of the Inner Bailey wall, or Inner Curtain Wall. The two close together below the Keep's right-hand tower flank the King`s Gateway (or King's Gate), entrance to the Keepyard:

Abridged 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:

...After the bridge was drawn up, and the great gates shut, they were not to be opened until the rising of the sun. If the King came unexpectedly in the night, the great gates were not to be opened to him, but he was to go to the postern, called the King's Gate, towards the north; the there the Constable (1), and those who accompanied him, might admit the King, and a certain number of his suite.. When the King was admitted, he had the command; and in the morning, when it was full day, he might admit the remainder of his company.

Silhouetted against the bottom of the Inner Curtain Wall on the right is the top of Godsfoe`s Tower, also known as "The Devil's Tower", on the other side of which is a replica Trebuchet (a Medieval catapult/siege engine).

Click to see all photos of Dover Castle.

Extract from "History of Dover Castle" (1):

Dover Castle is above all a great medieval fortress, created by King Henry II and his Plantagenet successors. At its heart stands the mighty Keep or Great Tower, 83 feet (25.3m) high and just under 100 feet (30m) square, with walls up to 21 feet (6.5m) thick. The grandest and among the last of the keeps raised by the kings of England during the 11th and 12th centuries, it was designed by Henry II’s architect ‘Maurice the Engineer’ and built between 1180 and 1185. A symbol of kingly power and authority guarding the gateway to the realm, it was also a palace designed for royal ceremony, and to house Henry’s travelling court.

Within this magnificent showpiece, Henry could welcome and impress distinguished visitors to England - particularly noble pilgrims travelling to the new shrine in Canterbury Cathedral of St.Thomas Becket, slaughtered before the altar by Henry’s household knights only a dozen or so years before the Great Tower was begun.

Dover Castle is a Grade I Listed Building (2).

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) The Medieval Castle

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

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.

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on January 14, 2011
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by John Latter
    • Camera: PENTAX Corporation PENTAX K100D
    • Taken on 2010/12/18 21:14:34
    • Exposure: 30.000s
    • Focal Length: 35.00mm
    • F/Stop: f/32.000
    • ISO Speed: ISO200
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
    • No flash