King’s Gate, Inner Curtain Wall, Dover Castle, Kent, England, United Kingdom

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Northern entrance into the Inner Bailey, or Keep Yard, with the base of Henry II's Keep ("Great Tower") visible through the gateway arch. Vaulted passage with drawbridge and portcullis and flanked by 2 of the inner wall's 14 towers. Photo taken from the King’s Gate Barbican (North Barbican). Norman Listed Building, English Heritage, and Scheduled Ancient Monument. Medieval History, Travel, and Tourism.

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Comments (6)

John Latter on March 21, 2013

The flanking towers are so massive that they dwarf the gateway. See:

The Twin Towers of King’s Gate, Inner Curtain Wall, Dover Castle, United Kingdom


The Keep, Inner Curtain Wall, and North Barbican of Dover Castle

The southern entrance through the inner curtain wall, the Palace Gate or Palace Gateway, is an example of early English architecture. It is sometimes called the Duke of Suffolk's Gate (or Tower) after the duke who married King Edward IV's sister, Elizabeth.

Abridged extracts 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" (Church of St Mary the Virgin, Cannon Street), on April 21st, 1814, and published the same year:

The King's Gate, and Bridge

The entrance into the Saxon keep, at this place, was defended by a strong out-work, which enclosed a small area before the great gates (of King's Gate). Some of the ruins of it are still remaining. From the walls of this out-work, the archers could command the whole vallum, from Peverell’s Gate to Albrincis's Tower (ie Avranches Tower).

As there is no appearance of there ever having been a portcullis at the entrance into this out-work, it is probable, that they had only a drawbridge, to secure the passage at this bridge.

The walls at this place were, in some parts, ten feet thick, cased with flint, and filled up with chalk, rubbish, and mortar, which has been considered proof of its being Saxon masonry.

There was a portcullis at the great gates, opening immediately into the Keep (Keep Yard, sometimes Quadrangle); and on each side a tower; from which archers could command the whole vallum. Though these towers were open in front, they had floors in them; for the holes are still remaining in the walls, which received the ends of the timbers.

The ground compartments were places of safety; where the soldiers could retire to rest, and the women and children remain, in case of a siege. As all the towers were open in front, in the interior walls, it is evident that our hardy ancestors did not require very close rooms to shelter them from the inclemency of a winter's sky.

Names have changed over the centuries and some names have been re-used. For example, another quote from the above source also concerns "King's Gate". This time, however, the author is referring to Fitzwilliam Gate on the Eastern Outer Curtain Wall:

...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 (of Dover Castle), 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.

Abridged extract from "The History of the Castle, Town and Port of Dover" by Reverend S. P. H. Statham, Rector of St Mary-in-the-Castle (ie St Mary-in-Castro) (Longmans, Green, and Co., 1899):

Two gates (in the Inner Bailey walls) led in to the inner ward (or Keep Yard), the one on the north, called the King's Gate; that on the south being named the Palace Gate, or the Duke of Suffolk's Gate. They are vaulted passages between two flanking square towers, and are early English in character. Both were fitted with a portcullis.

An outwork, consisting of a wall with towers, was thrown out in front of each of these gates, and the entry to these works was placed obliquely to the main gate so as to allow the approach to be commanded. That at the King's Gate (the King’s Gate Barbican) remains much as it was first built, but the one at the Palace Gate has been entirely destroyed.

End Notes

Dover 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.

Click to see all photos of Dover Castle, a Dover English Heritage site and a Grade I Dover Listed Building.

A Middle Ages (5th century to the 15th century) Dover History photo.

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.

John Latter on March 21, 2013

This photo shows the King's Gate from inside the Inner Bailey:

The King’s Gate, or King’s Gateway, from the Keep Yard, Dover Castle

It was taken in 2009 and will be replaced (as far as linking to it is concerned) sometime in 2013.

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on March 18, 2013
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by John Latter
    • Camera: PENTAX Corporation PENTAX K100D
    • Taken on 2011/06/26 16:58:16
    • Exposure: 0.004s (1/250)
    • Focal Length: 45.00mm
    • F/Stop: f/8.000
    • ISO Speed: ISO200
    • Exposure Bias: -0.30 EV
    • No flash