No. 5 Battery, Stokes Bay Lines


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Location Description:
South of the junction of Fort Road and Crescent Road, Stokes Bay, Gosport, Hants PO12 2TR.


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Location Description:
South of the junction of Fort Road and Crescent Road, Stokes Bay, Gosport, Hants PO12 2TR.
Gosport (District Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Battery, built in the early 1860s as part of the Stokes Bay Lines to defend the western flank of Portsmouth Royal Dockyard.

Reasons for Designation

No. 5 Battery, Stokes Bay Lines, a mid-Victorian artillery battery built in the 1860s, is scheduled for the following principal reasons: * Historical interest: No. 5 Battery is an integral part of the Stokes Bay Lines which are of national importance as part of front-line defences against a French invasion threat; * Survival: the battery is a substantial earthwork and survives reasonably well, retaining the four expense stores; * Documentation: the original extent and armaments of the battery are well documented.


No. 5 Battery formed part of the defences of the Stokes Bay Lines, built in the 1860s to fill the gap between the three large coastal forts to the east and the five forts of the Gosport Advanced (or Gomer-Elson) Line to the west, which had been begun in 1853 to protect the west flank of Gosport.

The earliest defence of Stokes Bay can be attributed to King Henry VIII who built Haselworth Castle, probably on the site of what is now Fort Monckton. The need for a more robust defensive system in this area was recognised as long ago as 1587 when the threat from Spain encouraged the Earl of Sussex to request defences centred on the area of Haselworth Castle including damming the River Alver.

It was not until 1779, however, when the American War of Independence provided a spur, that the defences of Stokes Bay were addressed. Fearing that the American war would provoke an attack on England by France or Spain, the first Fort Gilkicker was constructed. Redoubts were built along the coast of Stokes Bay in 1782-3 and Fort Gilkicker was rebuilt in 1789-90 on a new site and renamed Fort Monckton, just before the French Revolutionary War of 1793.

In the 1840s and 1850s the first Browndown Batteries were built; two at Browndown Point and one at Gilkicker Point, again prompted by the possible warlike intentions of France. In 1858 the French had constructed the Gloire, an ironclad, a new type of armour plated fighting ship, which threatened England’s naval supremacy. It was recognised that the guns of shore defences would have to be upgraded to deal with the new advances in ship building and armament. The Royal Commission of 1860 under Lord Palmerston was set up to consider the Defences of the United Kingdom with particular reference to the new rifled guns. It recognised that Stokes Bay was an ideal beach for possible invasion landings. In 1857 Major Jervois had proposed a system of ramparts, moats and batteries to close the gap between a new fort inland at Gomer, part of the Gosport Advanced Line, and Fort Monckton, which were to become the Stokes Bay Lines. The work was started in 1859 and the Lines ran from the rear of the Browndown Batteries in the west to the glacis of Fort Monckton in the east. Largely completed by 1870, it consisted of a rampart, some 2.5km long, with a road to its rear and a wet ditch or moat to the front, 60ft in width and 9ft deep at high water of Spring tides. Fort Gilkicker and the batteries at Browndown were to help in the defence and there were five batteries along the length of the Line. No. 5 Battery, built on the site of one of the 1780s redoubts, was at the east end of the Lines near Fort Monckton and to the rear of Fort Gilkicker. It was sited to give intersecting fire with the other batteries of the Lines, particularly No. 2 Battery at the west end of the Lines. The intervening sections were covered by the smaller No. 3 and No. 4 batteries.

No. 5 Battery was first armed with probably eleven 68pr and 8-inch smooth bore guns firing through embrasures spaced evenly along the length of the rampart. In 1872 it was proposed to replace them with nine 7-inch Rifled Breech-loading (RBL) guns and by 1886 these had been reduced to four. These were sited in pairs on the flanking ramparts. There were four expense stores (magazines) built against the rampart, two for the central rampart and one each for the flanking ramparts. By 1892, from north to south, these were designated as: Side Arm Store; Cartridge Store No. 1; Shell Store; Cartridge Store No. 2. The cartridge stores each held 288 cartridges and the shell store 153 x 7-inch shells. There were also a detached small-arms or general artillery store located at the rear of the gorge and a probable entrance lodge to the east of the main gate. The battery was open to the rear but the presence of a gate lodge suggests some kind of fencing. Both these buildings were demolished at some point after the 1950s.

The battery was additionally armed with four Maxim machine guns in 1901 but in 1904, it was decommissioned. It was not brought back into service during the First World War and the 1932 Ordnance Survey Map shows a number of buildings occupying the yard behind the ramparts and it is marked as a “Royal Naval Camp”. It is not known when the site was taken over by the navy or what the original purpose of the camp was. An aerial photograph from 1950 shows that a roadway had been cut through the northern angle of the rampart by that date. Post Second World War, the site became the Royal Navy Physiological Research Laboratory and additional buildings were added to the site between the 1950s and 1970s.

A large number of buildings from these later uses populate the site, both within the gorge and to the south and west of the ramparts. The buildings in the gorge shown on the 1932 OS map as part of the Royal Naval Camp are mostly intact but modified; some may have been completely rebuilt. The intact buildings are all single storey, built in red brick to long narrow plans with wide-gabled slate roofs. The original function of these buildings is currently unknown.

Later buildings to the west and south of the battery include brick, concrete and clad structures of the 1950s, 60s and 70s. None of the above buildings are included in the scheduled area.

The site remained a military research facility until it was closed in 2012.


PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS The scheduled area comprises the surviving ramparts of No. 5 Battery and its expense stores. The scheduling is divided into two separate areas of protection by the break in the ramparts made for a road in the 1950s. The northern area included the northern flanking rampart and one expense store. The southern area includes the central and southern flanking rampart and the remaining three expense stores. The remainder of the site including the gorge of the battery and the area beyond the ramparts falls outside the scheduled area.

DESCRIPTION The battery has a splayed plan, facing south-west, with three earthwork ramparts enclosing the open gorge (yard) to the rear. Most of the ramparts survive, apart from a section at the angle between the northern and central rampart removed for a roadway. The gorge is at a higher level than the area in front of the ramparts suggesting that the front rampart may have been close to the line of the natural cliff. The outer face of the ramparts included narrow terraces at mid-height shown on late-C19 plans and 1940s aerial photographs which may survive under the thick undergrowth which covers the ramparts. It appears that nothing survives of the four gun positions shown in 1892 although it is possible that some of the metal gun tracers may survive as these are mentioned in some sources.

The four expense stores (magazines) are rectangular brick-vaulted structures projecting back from the earthen rampart. The interiors are below ground level entered via a descending flight of concrete steps with later brick parapet walls. The arched double plank doors survive but with replacement fittings. Ammunition issue hatches giving onto the rampart, modified from original shell recesses, possibly at the time the machine guns were installed in 1901, are evident. The interiors of the expense stores were not inspected.

EXCLUSIONS All fencing, modern concrete steps, modern tubular steel handrails and their footings, as well as the small brick store at the south-eastern corner of the western section of the ramparts are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all these features is included.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
HA 475
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Crick, Timothy, Ramparts of Empire - The Fortifications of Sir William Jervois Royal Engineer 1821-1897, (2012), 40-60
Moore, David, Solent Papers No. 8 - The Stokes Bay Defences, (2010)
Victorian Forts (Portsmouth) - Stokes Bay Lines Battery No. 5, accessed 30 July 2015 from
Mike Williams - Site Record - Qinetiq Site/ Battery No. 5 (Historic England 2015)


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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