Deal Castle, Kent
Deal Castle is built where Julius Caesar landed on his expeditions in 55 and 54 BC a hundred years before the main Roman invasion, and the same water where part of Elizabeth's fleet was to await the Spanish Armada to launch their deadly fire ships.
Deal is the largest coastal fort built by Henry VIII to protect the English Channel against invasion by the combined might of the French, German and other Popal European catholic powers of Europe.
Its sister castles of Walmer and Sandown are built just one mile apart from each other to protect the Downs and the safe harbour to the Goodwin Sands of the English Channel, so as they can act as one against any invasion. Materials from the recently dissolved monasteries provided much of the money and materials to build these three fortifactions simultaneously within an eighteen month building program.
A Captain with a garrison of 34 included 16 gunners manned this state of the art fortication.
Today Deal Castle sits squat overlooking a pebbled beach looking stark and far less splendid that nearby Walmer Castle and its colourful well tendered gardens.
~ History ~
1533 ~ King Henry VIII marries Anne Boleyn, six years after asking the Pope for an annulment of his marriage to the Catholic Queen Catherine of Aragon, which sets him and England at conflict with the Catholic European powers and at its head the Pope.
1536 - Queen Catherine dies.
1538 ~ The Pope successfully reconcils Emperor Charlves V of Germany and King Francis I of France for a combined threat to invade England to remove King Henry and restore Catholism.
Seeing this combined threat King Henry sets about a major building program building an extensive chain of coastal fortifactions from Hull in the North to Cornwall in the South-West, including Deal Castle as one of a concentration of forts along the vulnerable English Channel.
This work is completed in just two years as part of England's readiness for certain war against the combined might of the Pope, France and Germany.
Despite this threat invasion never materialises.
1648 ~ At the beginning of the Civil War between King Charles I and Parliament, the three castles are in the hands of Parliament.
However a mutiny in the Downs fleet and a Royalist uprising in the South-East, Sandown Castle declares for the King and, after a brief skirmish, involving a combined land and sea attack, Deal and Walmer Castles soon follow.
Parliamentary troops quickly squash the rebellion in the South-East and then turn their attention to the three castles. Colonel Nathaniel Rich with 2,000 men and only a handful of large guns besiege all three castles in turn, beginning with Walmer. Despite the harassment of sorties from the other two castles to break the siege supported by the Royalist Fleet, the Parliamentarians take the castle.
Deal and Sandown are besieged in turn resulting in surrender following further skimishes.
1651 ~ At the end of the Civil War Parliament decide to repair rather than slight the three castles, unlike most other castles. Their value in protecting the coast and Royal fleet being recognised.