Rare view of the Georgian Sergeant Major's House, Dover Castle, Kent, UK

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John Latter on June 23, 2011

The Georgian Sergeant Major's House, situated on Knights Road just inside the Western Outer Curtain Wall, is now an English Heritage "Holiday Cottage" but was once the home of the Artillery Battery Sergeant Majors (1) who were garrisoned in the castle, and then more recently lived in by the Custodian of Dover Castle.

The photo was taken at 11.39 am on Sunday, 27th of February, 2011, from a usually inaccessible location: perhaps originally a pathway, but now only a narrow strip of earth between the top of a steep slope and the outside of a high ancient wall. A place that Saxon Geoguth (young warriors), and probably Roman legionnaires, too, once patrolled.

More information about the Sergeant Major's House after these notes:

Behind the building is the Peverell Gateway (also an English Heritage Holiday Cottage) which marks the juncture of the work of King John and Henry III, and is itself a composite structure of both reigns.

Above the copper beech garden hedge on the left is the Western Outer Curtain Wall whose next "port of Call" after the gateway is Gatton`s Tower as it continues to the cliff-edge below the Tudor Bulwark. Between the hedge and the wall, Knight's Road follows the curtain wall southwards from Peverell's Gateway (alt. Peverell's Gate, Peverell's Tower) as far as the Canons Gate entrance to the castle.

On the other side of the Peverell Gateway, the West Norman Road follows the curtain wall as far as the Queen Mary Tower (alt. Port, or Porth Tower: the brown square "block" behind the trees towards top-right). Queen Mary`s Tower lies in the garden of the Constable Gateway, out-of-shot to the right.

Below the skyline at top-left is a small vertical white rectangle. This is the tower of the Dover Grammar School for Boys (DGSB). I was a pupil there between 1962 and 1967 (school photo) before joining the Royal Signals at the Army Apprentices College, Harrogate in Yorkshire.

Also visible in the upper-left quarter are: Dover Police Station, the rear of the Town Hall, part of the Sir John Falstaff (a pub), the roof of the Park Inn (mentioned because its my local!), the Bowling Green by the River Dour, and the area of Tower Hamlets containing Robsons Yard where I have the misfortune to live.

The Sergeant Major's House is now an English Heritage "Holiday Cottage" (2):

This is an elegant and spacious four-storey Georgian house (the attic has dormer windows at the back) standing in its own grounds with expansive views to the English Channel, one of the busiest waterways in the world.

Basement and ground floor: Entrance hall leading down short flight of stairs to television room and games room in semi-basement, and up five steps to living room, kitchen with dining area, utility room and toilet.

First floor: Two double bedrooms and bathroom with shower.

Second floor: One twin bedroom with zip-link beds and shower room.

Outside there is parking for one car, further parking is available a short walk away. The garden is laid to lawn with fencing and a protective beech hedge around. There is a paved terraced area with a table and chairs. Visitors to the castle walk past the house but the hedging gives privacy.

In the caption to the The Georgian Sergeant Major`s House from Gatton Tower photo (uploaded on December 15, 2009), I said I would love to stay in the house but that "I would have to win the Lottery first - the price for 7 nights between the 15th July 2011 and 1st September 2011 (the most expensive period) is currently scheduled to be GBP1593!"

I haven't won yet ...but I still live in hope! :)

Dover Castle is a Grade I Listed Building and an English Heritage site: click to see all photos of Dover Listed Buildings and Dover English Heritage Sites.

The Sergeant Major's House has a seperate Grade II listing:

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

Building Details:

Building Name: HOUSE ADJOINING PEVERELLS TOWER Parish: DOVER District: DOVER County: KENT Postcode:


LBS Number: 177824 Grade: II Date Listed: 07/03/1974 Date Delisted: NGR: TR3246241851

Listing Text

1. 1050 DOVER CASTLE House adjoining Peverells Tower TR 3241 1/94 II 2. Late C18 (C18 = 18th Century) to early C19. 3 storeys stock brick. Hipped renewed tiled roof. 2 sashes with glazing bars intact. Rear elevation has 2 hipped dormers.

Listing NGR: TR3246241851

Source: English Heritage.

Grade II: buildings that are "nationally important and of special interest".

The English Heritage Pastscape entry for Dover Castle states (3):

Medieval castle possibly originating as a pre-1066 motte and bailey castle, remodelled during the reign of Henry II (Curtmantle), to became a castle with concentric defences, one of the first examples of its kind in western Europe.

Much of this work was supervised by Maurice the Ingeniator (Maurice the Engineer, or Mason) and started with piecemeal additions to the defences during the 1160s and 1170s and major construction work, including the Keep (or Great Tower), walls of the Inner Bailey (Inner Curtain Wall) and parts of the Outer Curtain Wall between 1179 and 1188.

Work during the reign of Henry III included strengthening of the defences and the modernising of the castle's accomodation. Much of this took place between 1217-57 and was supervised by Hubert de Burgh (first Earl of Kent). Additions included construction of St John's Tower outside the northern defences which was linked to the castle by a tunnel. Limited work on the castle and its defences took place during the 14th and 15th century and by the 17th century it was in neglect.

The castle was in use as a prison for prisoners of war from 1690 and until the 1740s when a programme of modernisation was started. This included the updating of the defences and construction of barracks, supervised by John Peter Desmaretz (military engineer, c. 1686-1768) . Further changes took place in response to the Napoleonic Wars. Much of this took place between 1794 and 1805 and was implemented by Lieutenant Colonel William Twiss, and included bombproofing of the keep, installation of additional gun batteries and outworks and the excavation of underground tunnels for communication and additional accomodation.

The castle was also adapted to protect itself from new explosive shells in 1853 and new barrack were constructed. The castle was used during World War I and World War II when features including anti aircraft and search light batteries were constructed. (Abridged)

Dover Castle is located upon the famous White Cliffs overlooking the town and port below. The Normans, beginning with William the Conqueror, built upon earlier Roman and Saxon fortifications on a site first selected by their Iron Age predecessors.

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) See Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA), once an arm of the Royal Artillery

(2) The Sergeant Major`s House Price List

(3) Pastscape: Dover Castle (Pastscape Homepage)

John Latter / Jorolat

Dover Blog: The Psychology of a Small Town

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

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on March 2, 2011
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by John Latter
    • Camera: PENTAX Corporation PENTAX K100D
    • Taken on 2011/02/27 11:39:07
    • Exposure: 0.004s (1/250)
    • Focal Length: 28.00mm
    • F/Stop: f/11.000
    • ISO Speed: ISO200
    • Exposure Bias: -0.30 EV
    • No flash