14 November 2019

Walmer Castle

Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, isn't that a lovely title? Bestowed by the monarch since the 13th century, originally it gave military power and commercial control over the five crucial ports of south-east England: Hastings, New Romney, Hythe, Dover and Sandwich. More recently it became a ceremonial role held by, among others, the Duke of Wellington, Winston Churchill and the Queen Mother.
The Lord Warden got to live in Walmer Castle, a charming pocket castle overlooking the sea near Dover.
Walmer Castle was built during the reign of Henry VIII as a response to the perceived threat of invasion from Europe. No such invasion happened but the castle did see action later when it was besieged by Parliamentarian forces during the English Civil Wars.
It was the southernmost of three forts in this section of the Kent coast guarding a sheltered anchorage in the English channel known as the The Downs. The other two were Deal (which is still intact), and Sandown which has fallen into disrepair.

The castle comprises a circular central keep, encased by four outer bastions 
all surrounded by a deep wide moat which is now lawn and gardens.
Collage courtesy of befunky.com
Castles were well defended. Those holes in the roof were death holes. When the enemy stormed the closed door a portcullis would be lowered at the outer edge trapping them inbetween, then the defenders would fire, throw or pour harmful substances or objects, such as rocks, arrows, scalding water, hot sand, quicklime, tar, or boiling oil, down on their attackers.

In the 18th and 19th centuries the upper levels of the outer bastions were modified and apartments added, turning the the castle into an elegant home. In 1708 it became the official residence of the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports.

Once again photography wasn't allowed inside, but I was very naughty and very lucky to sneak quite a few. Some of them are poor quality because I had to be very quick!
 The Duke of Wellington's apparel and boots

His bedroom

This lovely tranquil garden was created in celebration of the Queen Mother on her 95th birthday,
with a shaded summer house at that end 
and a 'yew castle' arbour at the other

English Heritage have revived the gardens begun by William Pitt the Younger. Including the wild flower meadow known as the Paddock and the planted former chalk quarry called the Glen that nature, over time, partially reclaimed rendering both inaccessible.

Broadwalk Garden

The gardens are beautiful

With regular 4 legged visitors

A nice sunny place to rest for a while

The greenhouse garden and the orchard

Recharge the batteries in the Glasshouse Cafe or the Courtyard Tea Room

The office of Lord Warden still exists and is currently held by Admiral of the Fleet Michael Cecil Boyce, Baron Boyce, formerly the United Kingdom’s most senior naval officer, who takes a keen interest in all things connected with Walmer Castle. 

Of all the castles I have visited Walmer is by far my favourite. Part country house, part castle, part state building, it's  a very picturesque residence surrounded by beautiful gardens.

Be well ~ 
Polly x 


  1. I like the idea of death holes. I think I'll borrow the idea for when those unwanted visitors turn up at the door. I wonder which harmful substance would be the most satisfying?

    The four poster bed looks very comfortable. You did well to snatch so many photos!

    1. Hi Nick, I did. There were members of staff in the downstairs rooms but they moved around, and no one upstairs :-)

  2. Walmer has long been on my list of places to visit, so I was very interested to see your post and enjoy your shots (even the hastily taken ones, which look pretty good to me!). It is contemporary with Southsea Castle, which I know reasonably well, but in much better condition! Wellongton died there, I believe. Odd that they don't allow photos these days, unless someone still lives there, or there's a security angle.

    1. Hi Mike yes Wellington did die in that bedroom, I forgot to mention it. I do know that if great works of art are on loan at these places photography isn't allowed, or as you said if someone lives there. Admiral of the Fleet Michael Cecil Boyce is the current Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, but I don't know if he actually lives there.

  3. I think Wellington died there, as well as his close relative, Wellongton.

  4. I enjoyed they history and beauty of the castle, Polly, all the more for knowing that you've risked life and limb to bring us the photos :-)

    1. lol, Hello Amalia, it's good to know my daring deeds are appreciated :-) xx


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