Upper Level, Caponier 3, Drop Redoubt, Western Heights, Dover, Kent, UK

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John Latter on December 27, 2007

An internal view of the Drop Redoubt's Caponier 3 from the upper level balcony, complete with dust orbs (Caponier 3 External View).

Unlike the Caponier in the Detached Bastion of the North Centre Bastion, the balcony floor and railings are still intact here*. Largely because, no doubt, the Drop Redoubt has been closed for a number of years under the new ownership of English Heritage (but see info on Open Days below).

At the 'back' of each Caponier were Ammunition or Gunpowder rooms. Click to see the inside of Caponier 3's Gunpowder Room and/or its surrounding ventilation tunnel.

Also see an internal view of Caponier 3 from the lower level.

*Photos of the Detached Bastion's Caponier currently include: 1, 2, 3)

This is the abridged text from one of the information boards on display on the Drop Redoubt Open Day, June 10th, 2007 (Future Open Days):

During the 1850's many fortifications became out of date. The introduction of rifled guns meant ranges of up to 8,000 yards were possible. Forts were redesigned and many, such as the Drop Redoubt had gun rooms called caponiers added (alt. caponnier: 'chicken-cage'). These allowed local, flank, defence to be moved into the ditches (moats) leaving more space on the top of the fort for heavier guns to match those of any potential attacker.

At the Drop Redoubt four caponiers and two gun rooms were added between 1859 and 1866. These caponiers were two stories high with space for guns on the ground floors and a gallery for musketry above. The guns used were carronades - short stubby guns originally designed for sea service. They would have fired case shot which produced a cone of metal balls when fired. The gun rooms were built to fire along the ditch to the cliff edge (close to the Court's Folly) and the ditch linking the Redoubt with North Centre Bastion.

The caponiers were linked with the top of the fort by staircases with flat ledges running on either side of the stair treads.

There was an iron ring provided at the top of each stair and this enabled the carronades to be winched into position. Inside the caponiers ventilation ducts were essential as firing guns within an enclosed space quickly filled it with acrid smoke. Fireplaces were also provided so that the caponiers could be used as barrack accommodation if required.

English Heritage Pastscape has the following entry for the Drop Redoubt:

Coastal artillery battery. Remains of a Roman Pharos, originally one of a pair constructed around the 1st century AD on the headlands flanking the Roman port of Dubris. It was known as Bredenstone or Caesar's Altar** during the 16th and 17th centuries and called the Devil's Drop during the 18th century. The remains were moved to their present site during the 19th century and an artillery fort built incorporating the remains. Modified in the 1860s as a pentagonal ditched [moated] work with the addition of caponiers in its ditch [moat], provision of more modern artillery and refurbished accommodation for the officers and men. Originally armed with 3 x 24-pounders, 6 x 12-pounders, and an 8-inch mortar, it was rearmed with 7-inch breech loaders in the 1860s, with smooth bore guns in the caponiers for ditch defence. By the end of the century its role in artillery defence had declined and it was used mainly for troop accommodation. An artillery observation post was established here during World War II.

**In "The History of the Castle, Town and Port of Dover" by Reverend S. P. H. Statham, Rector of St Mary-in-the-Castle (Longmans, Green, and Co., 1899) it says:

..the [Castle] Pharos is spoken of as the "Tower of Julius Caesar"

So the East (Castle) Pharos was known as "Caesar's Tower" and the West (Bredenstone) Pharos as "[Julius] Caesar's Altar".

Standard Info:

See the Satellite view of the Drop Redoubt annotated with moat entrance locations, surface structures, etc..

The Drop Redoubt is only part of Dover's extensive Napoleonic defenses - click on Western Heights and then check the tag list for all the locations covered (eg North Centre Bastion, Grand Shaft, North Entrance - more will be added as time goes on).

Also see St Martin's Battery

Work began on Dover's Western Heights fortifications in the 1770s and was intensified, first in the early 1800s because of Napoleon I (Napoleon Bonaparte), and again in the mid-Nineteenth Century because of Napoleon III (originally known as Charles Louis Napoleon Bonaparte).

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on December 27, 2007
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by John Latter
    • Camera: PENTAX Corporation PENTAX Optio 33LF
    • Taken on 2007/06/10 10:11:14
    • Exposure: 0.017s (1/60)
    • Focal Length: 5.80mm
    • F/Stop: f/2.600
    • ISO Speed: ISO200
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
    • Flash fired

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