Fort Bovisand


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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

South Hams (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SX 48772 50706


Coastal batteries, Royal Commission fortifications, and World War II coastal defensive works known collectively as Fort Bovisand.

Reasons for Designation

Batteries are any place where artillery is positioned to allow guns to cover a particular area such as a line of communication or the approaches to a defended location. Battery design evolved with developments in artillery. Those of the 16th and 17th centuries were normally simple raised earthwork platforms. By the 18th to 19th centuries guns were mounted in increasingly sophisticated emplacements, normally built in concrete with integrated magazines. The Royal Commission fortifications are a group of related sites established in response to the 1859 Royal Commission report on the defence of the United Kingdom. This had been set up following an invasion scare caused by the strengthening of the French Navy. These fortifications represented the largest maritime defence programme since the initiative of Henry VIII in 1539-40. The programme built upon the defensive works already begun at Plymouth and elsewhere and recommended the improvement of existing fortifications as well as the construction of new ones and they are the most visible core of Britain's coastal defence systems and are known colloquially as `Palmerston's follies'. The use of fixed artillery to protect the coast from hostile ships is one of the oldest practices in the history of England's defences. From the 15th century until the second half of the 20th century, coastal artillery provided home security as well as protecting communications and trade networks across Britain's empire, until coastal artillery was finally stood down in 1956.

Fort Bovisand is one of the most complete surviving examples of this rare and crucially important monument class, which was constantly changing to reflect perceived threats and technological advances. With many of its internal features surviving the full history of this ever-changing defence strategy can be seen in one site.


See Details.


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 10 November 2015. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

The monument includes coastal batteries and defences, started in around 1586 which were successively improved and altered from 1770 up until World War II situated on and around Staddon Point which formed part of the extensive coastal defences for Plymouth, protecting the eastern side of Plymouth Sound from both sea and land attack. The earliest fortification was a Tudor bulwark replaced by Staddon Battery built in about 1770 and extensively altered during 1847 by Palmerston who enlarged and armed it. In 1850 it was disarmed and replaced by a much larger battery to the south, Fort Bovisand. The Staddon battery then became accommodation for officers and was linked to the rest of the fort by a covered walkway protected by gun loops. In 1898 more artillery emplacements were built into the ditch just forward of Staddon Battery parapet wall and more were added in 1903-08. Staddon Battery remained as offices and accommodation. The three tiered battery is still largely complete and retains many of its original internal fittings. The granite casemented work of Fort Bovisand was built by recommendation of the Royal Commission and was completed in 1869. Originally planned to hold 60 guns over three tiers, the final design by Major Porter held up to 50 guns on two tiers. The structure still remains intact and complete with many internal fittings and original features. The artillery was successively improved upon until the guns became obsolete in 1900. During World War II the fort was used as an anti-motor torpedo boat battery and was once more armed with an array of artillery, successively replaced. Searchlights and an observation post were installed and remained in use until after the war, parts of which remain. The fort was re-used as a range finder and target store until it was decommissioned in 1956.

Further similar surviving structures in the immediate vicinity are scheduled separately. Staddon Heights Battery is Listed Grade II and Fort Bovisand Grade II*.


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

Legacy System number:
DV 719
Legacy System:


PastScape Monument Nos:-1396425 and 437584


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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