Upnor Castle, Kent
~ History ~
1559 ~ Queen Elizabeth I purchases six acres of land on the north bank of the River Medway at the cost of £25, for the construction of an artillery fort to guard naval ships anchored further up the Thames estuary. The total cost of the fortress being some £3,621 upon its completion five years later. In its building stone is robbed from nearby Rochester Castle.
1567 ~ Further expenditure of £728 is spent on the castle, primarily lead for its roof. Later a great chain is laid across the River Medway to control access to the estuary.
1596 ~ Admiral Howard reports the garrison is inadequate to defend the castle, so it receives reinforcements to take the garrison's number to 80 men.
1599 ~ Further work is undertaken on the castle over the next two years costing a further £1000.
1623 ~ A report of the castle lists 18 guns, 34 unserviceable longbows, a captain, 8 gunners with 20 soldiers and a castle that is decayed with a broken drawbridge and lifting equipment.
1648 ~ The castle is used to hold Royalist officers during the Civil War. Further repairs are made costing £673.
1667 ~ A Dutch fleet under Admiral de Rhyter manages to escape capture to destroy Royal Navy ships anchored in the estuary.
The chain proves to be totally ineffective and the guns of the castle short of ammunition.
1691 ~ The primary role of Upnor Castle is no longer the frontline of defence but one of "a Place of Stores and Magazine".
Off Upnor Road A289
Upnor Castle overlooks the River Medway and was built for the sole purpose of protecting the Royal Navy anchored further up the river.
On its one and only test if failed spectually, resulting a disaster for King Charles II's war plans, leading to a quick end to the war and a favourable peace for the Dutch. It was one of the worst defeats in the Royal Navy's history, and one of the worst suffered by the British military, described as the "most serious defeat it has ever had in its home waters."
The castle is a curious Elizabethan fort of an unusual design still intact with plenty to explore.
There is a car park nearby which is well sign posted with an enjoyable short walk down a cobbled street to the castle.