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View from Palace Gate drawbridge, Dover Castle, Kent, England, United Kingdom

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On Harold’s Earthwork: Saxon St Mary-in-Castro, King Lucius of Britain Church (restored by Victorians) and AD 46 Roman Pharos, a lighthouse and watchtower built under Emperor Claudius when Aulus Plautius was governor. Nearest the arch: Victorian Garrison School. Listed Building, English Heritage site, and Scheduled Ancient Monument. Medieval History. Travel, and Tourism.

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Comments (4)

John Latter on March 10, 2013

Palace Gate is set in the Inner Curtain Wall that surrounds King Henry II's Norman "Great Tower" in the Keep Yard (Inner Bailey). The silhouette of a drawbridge chain can be seen at bottom-right of the photo. Imaging software with a "fill light" function reveals the left-hand chain and stonework detail of the gateway.

Palace Gateway is an example of early English architecture and has a portcullis as well as the drawbridge. It is also called the Duke of Suffolk's Tower after the duke who married King Edward IV's sister, Elizabeth. See:

The Palace Gate, Inner Curtain Wall, Dover Castle

The group of buildings visible through the archway also appear on two other photos. The first is a view from the top of the Keep:

Roman Pharos and Saxon Church from the Norman Keep

The second is set at ground level:

Roman Pharos, Saxon Church, and Victorian Garrison School

Note that the crenellations on top of the Pharos are distinctly un-Roman in appearance and are the result of a medieval "restoration".

The following comments are adapted from the captions to the above photos:

East Roman Pharos (1)

This stand-alone tower is a Roman lighthouse or watchtower, one of a pair constructed during the reign of Emperor Claudius in AD 46 on the headland flanking either side of the major Roman port of Dubris (or Portus Dubris).

Aulus Plautius led the Roman conquest of Britain in 43 AD, and became the first governor of the new province, serving from 43 to 47 AD.

The lighthouse survives within Dover Castle and comprises an octagonal stepped tower approximately 19 metres and four storeys high. The fourth storey was reconstructed between 1415 and 1437 when the lighthouse had been adapted for use as a belfry to the church of St Mary-Sub-Castro (St Mary-in-Castro).

The original design of the top of the lighthouse has been destroyed by these alterations, making its functionality unclear. It is thought that both lighthouses were used during fine weather as sea-marks in guiding vessels into the harbour. At night this role would have augmented by fire-lit braziers situated at the top of the lighthouse. The lighthouse may have also been used as a smoke beacon during certain weather and visibility conditions. Another possible role is as a signal tower.

Medieval and later alterations within the immediate locality of the lighthouse have removed any possible evidence of structures associated with the running of the lighthouse. Changes to the lighthouse took place in 1582 when it was converted into a gunpowder magazine.

The replica remains of the West Roman Pharos, known as the Bredenstone, is located in the Napoleonic Drop Redoubt on the Western Heights.

For more historical background, see the caption to the The 1st Century East Roman Pharos, Dover Castle photo.

St Mary-in-Castro (2)

Late Saxon church situated within the defences of Dover Castle. A minster was founded at St Mary-in-Castro by 640 AD but in 696 was transferred to St Martin's Church (St Martin-le-Grand) in the town.

The church is thought to be was built before 1020 and reuses Roman building material within its fabric and at some point used the Roman lighthouse as its belfry. The church was extensively repaired in 1582 but was in little use from the end of the 16th century. By 1724 its bells had been removed and the building was in ruins.

It was used as a Fives Court in the early 1790s and a garrison coal store during the Napoleonic Wars with France (1793-1815). During the modernising of the castle in mid-19th century the church was restored. This was carried out by Sir George Gilbert Scott in 1862. An additional restoration was undertaken by William Butterfield in 1888.

Alternative names: Church of St Mary, St Mary-sub-Castro, King Lucius Church.

Abridged excerpt from a magazine published in September, 1773 (3):

In the year 180 AD, King Lucius, being converted by Pope Eleutherius (Eleutheros, or Eleuterus), built here a church, wherein were afterwards placed by Eadbald, son of Ethelbert (Aethelbert), twenty-four secular Canons, who remained here 105 years; but at length, in the year 696, Withred King of Kent, thinking Dover Castle in danger from these Canons, who went in and out at all hours, and had frequent disputes with the Officers of the garrison, removed them to the church of St Martin, in the town of Dover.

Dover Castle Garrison School

I have not (yet) been able to find out much information about Dover Castle's Garrison School. As an ex-pupil (4) of Dover Grammar School for Boys, however, I was interested to discover these entries in DGSB's The Pharos magazine from a time when the school was known as "Dover County School for Boys" (DCSB):

Free Place Scholarship Awards, September, 1921 (5):

Smith, R. - Garrison School, The Castle, Dover.

Smith, W. F. - Garrison School, The Castle, Dover.

Its a common surname, but I wonder if they were brothers? twins, even!

Free Place Scholarship Awards, (September) 1922 (6):

Castle Garrison School, Dover. - J. M. Saunders.

By 1936, DCSB was welcoming boys who had gained, "Special Places":

Special Places (September, 1936) (7)

R. C. Neill - Garrison School, Dover.

D. W. Waters - Garrison School, Dover.


(1) English Heritage Pastscape entry (Abridged)

(2) English Heritage Pastscape entry (Abridged)

(3) The Universal magazine, Volumes 52-53: Antiquities of Dover Castle (September, 1773). Published for J. Hinton.

(4) John Latter in the 1963-1964 DGSB School Photo

(5) The Pharos, No. 37. JULY, 1921. VOL. XI.

(6) The Pharos, No. 40. JULY, 1922. VOL. XII.

(7) The Pharos, No. 82. JULY, 1936. VOL. XXVI.

End Notes

A Dover Roman, Saxon, and Victorian photo.

Click to see all photos of Dover Castle, a Dover English Heritage site and a Grade I Dover Listed Building (the general listing text for the whole of the castle is appended to a number of photos, a personal favourite is Rare View of Peverell Gateway, Western Outer Curtain Wall, Dover Castle).

Dover's 12th Century Norman castle appears in the video, "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].

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.

mayarose on August 17

nice place thank you

John Latter on August 18

I'm pleased that you like the photo, Mayarose - thank you for your comment :)

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on March 10, 2013
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by John Latter
    • Camera: PENTAX Corporation PENTAX K100D
    • Taken on 2011/06/26 17:22:41
    • Exposure: 0.004s (1/250)
    • Focal Length: 28.00mm
    • F/Stop: f/11.000
    • ISO Speed: ISO200
    • Exposure Bias: -0.30 EV
    • No flash