Staddon Heights Defences including Fort Staddon Fort, Brownhill Battery, Watch House Battery, Staddon Heights Battery, Staddon Battery and associated features and structures


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Location Description:
The area covering Staddon Fort to Watch House Battery, continuing to Staddon Cottage, Staddon Heights, Devon.


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

Location Description:
The area covering Staddon Fort to Watch House Battery, continuing to Staddon Cottage, Staddon Heights, Devon.
City of Plymouth (Unitary Authority)
Non Civil Parish
South Hams (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:


An integrated military landscape overlooking Plymouth Sound, dating from the late C18 and principally the mid-C19 and later, including Fort Staddon, Brownhill Battery, Frobisher Battery, Watch House Battery and ditch, Staddon Heights Battery and Staddon Battery, and the connecting military roads and banks.

Reasons for Designation

Staddon Heights Defences including Fort Staddon, Brownhill Battery, Watch House Battery, Staddon Heights Battery, Staddon Battery and associated features and structures, an integrated military complex of C18 to C20 date, is designated as a Scheduled Monument, for the following principal reasons: * Historic: this defence complex has strong cultural and historical significance, within both a local and national context, marking the establishment and successive strengthening of coastal fortifications prior to the period of the Napoleonic Wars until the end of the Second World War; * Rarity: as a particularly rich, complex and multi-layered defence system, it is rare in a national context; * Survival: the evidence remaining above ground, as well as historic sources and more recent evaluations, demonstrate that the defences survive particularly well; * Potential: the site has high potential for adding to our understanding of C19 military fortifications, especially where monuments survive as buried remains; * Documentation: the original extent and armaments of the structures are, in general, well-documented; * Fragility/ Vulnerability: all of the structures are vulnerable to the impacts of either disuse or unsympathetic reuse; * Group value: the structures form an historic group with each other and with other monuments on the Staddon Heights military landscape, including Fort Bovisand, Fort Stamford and Mount Batten; and in the wider area with Plymouth Breakwater and Breakwater Fort.


The fortifications around the port of Plymouth and the naval base at Devonport have expanded and been modified steadily as weapons technology has advanced, and as military threats have changed. In the late C15 and early C16, small blockhouses were built along the cliffs of Plymouth Hoe. By 1600, Plymouth Fort had been built where the Royal Citadel now stands and Drake's Island was better fortified. The earliest known fortifications at Staddon Heights are shown on a map of c.1587, where a barricade and cannon are depicted. During the C18, the almost continual wars with France saw the expansion of Plymouth's defences, including on Staddon Heights in the east and Maker Heights in Cornwall. There are accounts of there being a Watch House and beacon at Staddon in the C18.

Staddon Battery was built in c.1780 to protect the approach to Plymouth Sound from the east. It is not referred to in Col. Dixon's report of January 1780, but was built in 1779 (Oppenheim, p94) and is shown on Gardner's Map of 1784, as an oval depression with a square building roughly at its centre. The building was the guard house, now Staddon Cottage. The magazines to the north are not shown on Gardner's map, and are probably of C19 date. Withy Hedge is marked to the north of the battery on Gardner's map, and no structures apart from the battery are shown on the headland, which mainly features enclosed fields and cliffs. In 1804 the battery was armed with ten 12-pounder and 18-pounder small, smooth-bore guns. The guard room was extended to the south some time after an inspection of 1811 by Lt. Gen. Mercer, at which time the battery was surveyed. The associated plan is titled "A Plan of the battery at Staton Hill above Withy-Hedge". The subsequent extension to the south may stand on the site of an earlier structure. A building with an enclosure matching the current terrace/ terreplein is also shown on the site on a tithe map of 1843, on the edge of Battery Field.

Staddon Battery had a clear view over the approach to Plymouth Sound by sea. A breakwater was built at the entrance to the Sound, to the designs of the renowned engineer and bridge builder John Rennie (1761-1821), with construction beginning in 1811. The mile-long protective breakwater, his grandest executed work for the Admiralty, was not completed until 1848, although its scale was admired by Napoleon when he arrived as a prisoner at Plymouth in 1815, to Rennie's gratification. Plymouth Breakwater (qv.) was completed by his son, Sir John Rennie (1794-1874), who also built Bovisand Pier and Harbour (1816-24, qv.), which watered ships via a nearby reservoir, thereby easing the increasing traffic congestion in the port of Plymouth. Staddon Battery was disarmed in 1853 following the completion of Staddon Point Battery (qv.) to the south in 1847, although it may have continued to be used by the military after this time.

The mid-C19 was marked by a period of growing political and military concerns over French foreign policy and the development of an arms race between the two nations. These fears were heightened when the French press demanded an invasion of Great Britain following the attempted assassination of Napoleon III by the Italian revolutionary Count Orsini. One direct consequence of this situation was the establishment of a Royal Commission in 1859 to consider the defences of the United Kingdom. The Royal Commission primarily considered the need for modern defences to protect Royal Dockyards, ports and arsenals; their recommendations for Plymouth resulted in the completion of six new coastal batteries and a ring of eighteen land forts and batteries. These were based on three principal forts which are located at Tregantle on the Cornish side of Plymouth harbour, and Crownhill and Staddon on the Devon side. The land forts and batteries were linked by a system of military roads protected from the likely direction of attack by earth traverses and cuttings. There were eventually some 70 forts and batteries in England which were due wholly or in part to the Royal Commission. These constitute a well defined group with common design characteristics, armament and defensive provisions. Whether reused or not during the C20, they are the most visible core of Britain's C19 coastal defence systems and are known colloquially as "Palmerston's follies".

The enhancement of the Staddon Heights defences was first proposed by Lieutenant Colonel William F. D. Jervois in a memo of 1858 and, with modifications, was adopted by the Royal Commission in their February and October 1860 reports. The defences were principally orientated to protect from landward attack, although Staddon Point Battery was extended to protect Plymouth Sound and the Breakwater, and became Fort Bovisand (qv.) in the same scheme. Building work on the defences was largely complete by 1869, and a number of additional defence positions had been added to the original plans by this time. The land defences comprise two forts and three batteries, linked by a military road and protected by glacis slopes, ditches and embankments, forming an integrated defensive system. Fort Staddon, Stamford Fort (qv.) and Brownhill Battery (the wing battery to Staddon) were deployed with heavy guns to prevent bombardment and attack of the city (and the defences themselves) from the south and east. Closer defence of the complex was provided by smaller guns that would fire across the landscaped terrain of glacis slopes, scarps and ditches, with each fort and battery providing cover for specific areas, and as a whole covering the landward perimeter.

Fort Staddon was built between 1861 and 1869 as the principal land fort of the Staddon Heights defences. It occupies the highest point between valleys leading to Hooe Lake and Bovisand, and lies between Fort Stamford and Brownhill Battery. It was designed by Captain Edmund Du Cane under the supervision of Jervois. The initial plan for the keep was a large hexagonal design; however, in January 1862 due to financial constraints, it was modified with the accommodation being reduced from 400 to 250 men. As originally designed, the fort was intended to be capable of being armed with a total of 92 guns and howitzers, together with 7 mortars; however, it was never armed on this scale and the armament was in a constant state of flux. As part of the same scheme, protected military roads were built to Fort Stamford (north) and Watchhouse Brake Battery (south). Brownhill Battery was built as a wing battery to the south of Staddon and was probably complete by 1867. In 1869 it was described as having space 14 guns, four bomb-proof chambers and an open gorge. In 1878 the battery was used to store submarine mines. From Brownhill Battery, the military road deviated south-west to Twelve Acre Brake Battery, which had not been proposed by the Royal Commission but was included in the final scheme. This earthwork battery for three guns was completed in 1867, and the emplacements covered a ditch leading west to Watchhouse Brake Battery. The latter was another earthwork battery added to the final scheme, this time for five guns, and was completed in 1869. The construction of Watchhouse Brake Battery was accompanied by the digging of a deep ditch to its south, in the field marked Rockham Coombe Meadow on the 1843 tithe map. Stone caponiers (covered passages) with musketry galleries were built at each end of the ditch, from which a landward attack on the battery could be defended. The battery covered this ditch and the ditch back towards Twelve Acre Brake Battery. In 1885, Staddon Heights Battery was proposed to the north, between Watchhouse and the decommissioned Staddon Battery; and Frobisher Battery was proposed to be built over and replace Twelve Acre Battery. Frobisher Battery was constructed in 1888-92 and armed with one 12.5-inch gun with which to bombard enemy ships entering the Sound. Staddon Heights Battery was built in 1893 and armed with two 12.5-inch guns, and in the same year three 64-pounders were installed at Watchhouse (which had been renamed Watch House Battery in 1890). Probably during the 1860s, a covered way was created to link Staddon Point Battery with Staddon Battery and Watchhouse Brake Battery. It would also connect with Staddon Heights Battery from 1893. In 1894 two position finder cells were built into a section of the covered way below Staddon Heights Battery, and the 1860s target butt wall to the north of the battery was extended. To the south west of Staddon Fort, and to the west of Brownhill Battery, a rifle butts wall was constructed for target practice. The wall was built in two phases: the north half was built for the army in the 1860s; and the southern half for the Royal Marines was completed by 1894. The latter may have in part been constructed to protect the Staddon Heights Battery, which was built in 1893. Earth works to the immediate west of the wall are of unknown date.

In the late C19 and early C20, the Staddon Heights defences continued to develop, with the replacement of armaments and the reconfiguration of some batteries. Also, smaller structures were put in place to meet the changing technology of weaponry: Defence Electric Light emplacements, a submarine mine observation station, depressed ranger finders and position finding stations were constructed at strategic locations during this time. Watch House Battery was rebuilt with permanent structures in 1901, and its improved capacity led to Staddon Heights Battery becoming redundant. Watch House Battery appears to have taken on a more significant role in the defence complex at this time: by 1903 the armament at Fort Staddon had declined to two 40-pounders, one 16-pounder and two unidentified guns. The fort was probably disarmed soon after, and the neighbouring golf club was established in 1904. The approach and outbreak of World War One instigated further upgrades and additions to the weaponry and ancillary structure at Staddon Heights. With the growing threat from German U-boats in Plymouth Sound, it appears that the weight of defences was re-balanced to address the seaward side of the peninsula, and the armaments at Fort Bovisand were strengthened. Brownhill Battery was probably disused by the First World War.

During the Second World War a number of the sites in Staddon Heights were adapted or reused. Two engine houses were built in Fort Staddon, and probably powered searchlight positions there. A radar installation was built to the north of Brownhill Battery, probably used by the 144 Battery (Rocket) of the 9th Royal Artillery Regiment, and serving as a control room and radar for the Hooe Hill Rocket Battery. Another radar site used by 144 Battery was opened at Ridge Cross, Brixton in 1943. Concrete bases and other structures in Brownhill Battery may relate to the radar installation. A battle observation post serving Watch House Battery was built between the two position finder cells below Staddon Heights Battery. A barrage balloon anchorage site was constructed to the south of the target butt wall, north of Watch House Battery. Also, the foxholes dug in an earlier mound to the south east of the target wall are probably of Second World War date. Watch House Battery continued to serve in the Second World War, and was stood down in 1946.

The use of hydrogen-filled barrage balloons as anti-aircraft devices had been developed towards the end of World War I, in order to provide some protection for London from low-level air attack. After some unsuccessful experiments, barrages of groups of three balloons were suspended above London; the first was operational by October 1917, and a second was in place by the end of hostilities. A request was made to retain the balloon barrage during peacetime, but this was turned down, and the scheme was abandoned. However, in 1926-8, further experiments in the design of barrage balloons were made, at the Royal Airships Works at Cardington in Bedfordshire. The developments were so successful that the Commander-in-Chief of the Air Defence of Great Britain, Air Vice-Marshall Sir Edward Ellington, made the recommendation that part of the air defence of London should be made in the form of a balloon barrage, and that it should be in an advanced state of readiness in order to provide protection rapidly if needed. The Air Ministry agreed, and approval was given in 1932 for the establishment of a low-altitude barrage balloon section; it was formed in 1935, at RAF Cardington, under the control of RAF Fighter Command. By the end of 1938, it was evident that barrage balloons would form an important part of any future defence of Britain, and thus a separate Balloon Command was formed on 1st November 1938. Training was carried out at Balloon Training Units (BTU) at Cardington and Larkhill; by the time of their closure in November 1943, the BTUs had trained around 5,000 RAF balloon operators, the same number of WAAFs, and around 12,000 operators and drivers. A barrage balloon is shown at Staddon Heights, hauled down and tethered next to the rifle butts wall, in the background of a Second World War photograph of HMS Kent.

In the later C20, Fort Staddon remained in continuous military or naval occupation, being used as a barracks, for RAF escape and evasion training, assault training by the Royal Marines, and as a wireless station. The batteries have either been reused (Watch House) or infilled (Staddon Heights and Frobisher). Staddon Battery was converted to residential use, and part of the covered walkway south of Brownhill Battery is used by the golf course. In the early 2000s a set of farm buildings were placed on part of the former glacis, to the east of the fort. In the C21, Fort Staddon is largely disused, although the large steel masts erected in parade grounds serve a telecommunications function. There have been very few alterations to the fort, and those that have occurred are within the main magazine which is still in use by the Royal Navy. The land around the fort including the ditch and glacis, and Brownhill Battery, are in agricultural use. Watch House Battery is derelict. The roofs of the position finder stations below Staddon Heights Battery are used for radar monitoring by the Royal Navy. In November 2013 Staddon Cottage is vacant. In the C21, a golf course (established 1904) stands to the north and east of the rifle butts wall, and the land to the south and west is used for military training. The barrage balloon mooring site stands within a military training area, and is largely intact although one anchor block in the inner circle is damaged.



Principal Features A fort, built between 1861-69, designed by Captain Edmund Du Cane under the supervision of Lt.Col. William F.D. Jervois. It is located on the high point of Staddon Heights. The fort has a keep on its western side and is contained within a dry moat that is flanked by caponiers. The ground immediately outside has been cleared and profiled to form a glacis to the north, east and southern sides of the fort.

Description The fort is polygonal in plan with four faces and a gorge wall to the rear. It is enclosed by a dry rock-cut moat protected by a glacis and a covered way. The keep with two demi-bastions flanking the main gate projects beyond the line of the gorge. The interior of the fort is divided into an inner and outer parade by a large traverse that forms the eastern rampart of the keep. The fort is built using a mixture of dressed rubble limestone and brick. All internal rooms and passageways have brick-built, barrel-vaulted, bomb-proof (resistant to plunging fire and mortar bombs) roofs, reveted and covered with earth.

The main entrance is on the west side of the fort. Originally it would have been protected by a drop-pit and accessed via a drawbridge. The entrance is set within a large fortified gateway with a projecting limestone ashlar arch, which is chamfered, and with machicolations (loopholes cut in the floor above that permit vertical defence of the foot of the wall) carried on four engaged, rectangular, ashlar columns. The gateway is protected by flanking demi-bastions that project west of the fort and by a continuous parapet with splayed musketry loop-holes and gun embrasures, to provide close range defence. Unusually, there is no sign, insignia, or datestone on the recessed arch above the gate; however, blocked openings for the drawbridge chains and iron fittings do survive, including a lamp bracket and, within the brick vaulted entrance tunnel, the drawbridge pulley-wheels. On either side of the gateway are heated guardrooms with blocked rectangular windows with granite quoins. Beyond the main gate recesses, the height of the entrance tunnel is reduced and the arch is faced with rusticated voussiors.

The entrance tunnel passes through the earth rampart and emerges through an arch, with a clock housing above it, into the inner parade flanked by a pair of limestone retaining walls. The inner parade is a large open courtyard enclosed by the earthen ramparts of the keep on three sides, and the masonry wall of the traverse to the east. Six passageways in the earthen ramparts provide access to the barrack rooms, and musketry galleries within that form the keep and flank the moat to the rear. A flight of granite steps on the northern side of the main entrance and two ramps provide access to the terre-plein (level surface on top of a rampart on where the guns would be mounted). A loop-holed limestone parapet wall with brick-built chimneys rising at intervals along its length runs continuously from the southern demi-bastion to the northern intersection with the gorge. The loop-holed wall terminates at the southern demi-bastion and the south-west rampart of the keep has an earth parapet. Situated on the parade and set back into the south-west rampart is an octagonal plan access building for the water tanks, and a cast-iron manually operated hand pump and fly-wheel frame.

The east range of the keep is formed by a large earth traverse with a masonry frontage, capped by a low parapet wall, that contains brick-vaulted magazines, and a range of casemated barrack rooms, opening out onto the parade. The outer wall of the magazine projects slightly forward of the face of the traverse at the northern end. A wrought-iron swan-neck davit is attached to the wall above the entrance for handling ammunition. The magazine has two main brick-vaulted chambers, accessed via a shifting lobby and magazine passages. Ventilation and lighting passages run around the magazine rooms. The magazine has been given new uses which have involved some alterations to the plan and internal fittings, however, some original fittings remain, including an external rolling metal door. To the south of the magazine are eight casemated barrack rooms fronted by rusticated, stone-arched, external entrances. Some of these have been boarded up, however, a few have retained their recessed timber casemate windows resting on brick carrier walls. A passageway within the traverse to the rear of the casemates connects them to ablutions and latrines. The latrines can also be accessed from the outer parade. The slate backed urinal and the cast-iron framed latrine cubicles with timber doors and slate partitions remain extant. A couple of the barrack rooms retain some decorated painted walls dating from the Second World War and most of the doors are signposted. Some of the rooms have been subdivided with later timber-frame and metal clad partition walls. The ramparts above these ranges are accessed from the courtyard by a flight of stone steps flanking a gateway within the junction of the traverse and the south-west rampart, and by a flight of steps that rises from the inner parade over the magazines. The terre-plein of the traverse is bounded by raised earthen parapets and is pierced by eight limestone chimneys rising from the fireplaces in the casemates below. There are no gun emplacements or infantry positions on the traverse.

The outer parade is accessed via barrel-vaulted tunnels faced with rusticated limestone portals, situated in the angles at either end of the traverse. The inner face of the outer parade is a continuous earth rampart with stone steps and earth ramps set into it, which lead up to the terre-plein. The substantial battered scarp wall of the ramparts that faces out into the dry moat is built of coursed limestone surmounted by an ashlar cordon with a low parapet wall capped with flat coping stones and a banquette (musketry firing steps) to the rear. The ramparts have a profiled earthen parapet that contains a total of nine open gun emplacements of various dates (including two mass-concrete Moncrieff disappearing gun pits) and six single-gun Haxo casemates. The gun emplacements are interspersed with brick-vaulted expense magazines, and integral magazines served by wrought-iron swan-neck davits exist beneath each of the Haxo casemates. A group of five barrel-vaulted casemate barracks are set into the southern rampart, and a group of seven casemates are set centrally at the junction of the north-east and south-east ramparts. These casemates differ from those found in the inner parade in that the openings for the glazed casemate windows have been infilled by brick walling and natural lighting was provide by a pair of sash windows and a fanlight above the door. A flight of stairs situated immediately outside of the sixth casemate, descend to the access tunnel of the main caponier. Passageways to either side of these casemates lead to a vaulted seven-gun mortar battery with two small expense magazines. The battery was designed to enable the mortars to be fired from under cover through an arcade of arches that was screened by an earthen glacis. The eastern passageway also permits access to the banquettes to the rear of the scarp walls, and access to a sally port from the main caponier.

The moat and the four faces of the ramparts are protected by three two-storey caponiers; two single and one double, with flanking galleries in the scarp walls to their sides. The caponiers are accessed by three brick-vaulted underground tunnels that can be entered by descending flights of stairs both in the inner and outer parades. Most of the fittings and fixtures in the caponiers remain relatively intact, including timber doorframes, iron handrails, accoutrements and rifle racks.

The moat is between 12 and 15m wide and over 9m deep, it runs around the northern, eastern and southern faces of the fort and gradually reduced in depth along the flanks of the demi-bastions of the keep. It did not continue around the western face of the keep, but a drop-pit which has been infilled was crossed by the drawbridge at the main entrance. The moat has a stone reveted counter-scarp wall, which is topped by an earthen covered way on the two eastern faces on the far edge of the moat. The covered way on the far side of the moat was accessed by sally ports in the scarp wall and stairways at either end of the counter scarp. These stairways are interrupted and originally had removable timber sections as landings between the flights of steps that would have formed obstacles had the covered way been abandoned by the defenders. The covered way is profiled into the glacis and is protected from lateral enfilade fire at intervals by traverses and it could have acted as a Chimen de Rondes for troops gathering to mount a counter-attack. There are some brick and concrete military storage buildings of various dates which have been placed inside the ditch. Extensive landscaped glacis slopes, areas which were intentionally created to provide an unhindered view of the approaches to the fort, extend to the north, east and south. The steep slope to the north in particular shows evidence of a significant cut. The area to the east has been landscaped to provide a plateau in front of the fort, while the area to the south utilises the natural valley, which extends down to Bovisand.

Within the fort buildings, many of the original fittings survive; these include gun tackle loops, racer rails, glazing, fireplaces, stoves, musket racks, coat and hammock hooks and labels above the doors, as well as later C19 light fittings, bathrooms and furnishings. The caponiers in particular demonstrate a good survival of the above fittings, as well as timber casement glazed window, embrasure shutters and metal bars over the gun embrasures. Brick chimney stacks also survive above the barrack rooms across the site. Two Haxo casemates have been reused to house utility equipment, and a mid-C20 brick building has been built within the inner parade. A large water tank has been set into the south-west rampart of the keep.

Exclusions All modern telecommunications equipment, including the services that supply it, and modern road surfaces are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath these features is included.


Principal Features A series of 1860s embankments protecting the landward side of a military road from the south of Fort Staddon to Watch House Battery. The embankments lie between Watch House and Twelve Acre Brake Battery (later Frobisher Battery), between Twelve Acre Brake and Brownhill Battery, and between Brownhill and Fort Staddon. They were created to provide infantry with a means of protecting the curtain between the various forts and batteries should an enemy get through the heavy gun fire.

Description The route of the military road follows the modern road from Fort Staddon to the private road through the golf course to Brownhill Battery and Watch House Battery. Some parts of the embankment have been levelled to form golf tees by Brownhill. A gap at the north end of Brownhill truncates the embankment, and provided access to the Second World War radar installation. Part of the embankment has also been removed to the south-west of Brownhill to provide vehicular access to the field beyond. Most of the embankments are covered in undergrowth.

Exclusions The modern road surfaces are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath these features is included.


Principal Features A half-moon wing battery with a bank and ditch running around the north, east and south sides, and a masonry wall along the west side, positioned on a top of sloping ground.

Description The site is enclosed to the north, east and south by a five-sided earthwork rampart, fronted by a small ditch and an open area beyond to the east, serving as a glacis. Beyond the glacis is the 1860s ditch leading north to Fort Staddon, described above. The west side of the battery is enclosed by the embankment of the military road and a gorge wall with gun loops. The rampart contains a number of gun positions, although these are difficult to access and distinguish because of scrub. There is a least one magazine surviving intact on the rampart, to the north-east. There is also understood to be a larger magazine, with a cartridge store and shell-store with a davit above in the south west corner. The south corner appears to retain an intact observation post. Attached to the north end of the gorge wall, by a gap in the road embankment, is a rubble stone and brick structure forming an outshut facing east. This is probably a former guard house, and has a later low wall yard, constructed of breeze block. An area within the northern part of the battery interior has been used as a riding paddock which has involved the creation of low earthwork bank and some scarping to the rampart in this area. The remains of other structures and concrete bases within the battery enclosure date from the Second World War and later. To the north, a gap in the rampart leads to a Second World War radar installation, the survival of which is uncertain due to the overgrown scrub. The site is in agricultural use in the C21.

Exclusions The C20 farm buildings within the battery are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath these features is included.


Principal Features A battery of 1888-92, on the site of an earlier earthwork battery.

Description Heavily overgrown, the site appears to largely survive as buried features. The rear of the emplacement and the magazines were infilled in the late C20. The battery is set to the south of the military road embankment. To the north of the road is a small network of trenches, probably Second World War foxholes, some with corrugated iron revetments. They may have been constructed to protect the south end of the nearby rifle butt wall.


Principal Features A battery of c.1901, replacing an earlier battery of 1869. Remaining extant structures include emplacements for two 6-inch breech-loading guns, magazines, shelters, a guard-house, artillery store and lamp-room. Outside the perimeter of battery are a direction range-finder to the north, a battery observation post/ range-finder position below the guns, and a position finder cell/ night direction post/ Officer Commanding Electric Lights (OCEL) post below that, on the west edge of the ditch below Watch House. Directly behind the rear entrance to the position finder cell is a tunnel giving access to the upper musketry gallery of the 1860s, which looks down Watch House Brake. Steps from the north lead down to the former covered way (now the South West Coastal Path) linking to the former position finder cells for Staddon Heights Battery, which have a Second World War battle observation post inserted between them.

Description The entrance to the battery is from the north, at the end of the embanked military road, enclosed by a modern steel palisade fence. The forecourt of the battery is covered in grass with a sunken single-storey concrete shelter to the right with three openings under a flat roof. To the south-west of the shelter is the main battery structure with two raised gun emplacements either side of another shelter that stands on the roof of the magazines. The emplacements are of standard concrete type with ammunition lockers and shell and cartridge lifts arranged around the exterior of the gun pit, some retaining doors. There are original railings above the gun pits, and the emplacements are accessed by concrete steps. To the south of the south emplacement, at lower level, is a further single-storey shelter. The shelter above the magazines has eight window openings facing east and doors at each end. A walkway runs in front of the shelter with guard rails; davits at each end provided an alternative means to lift shells and cartridges from the magazines. Steps at each end lead down to magazine level. Under the north steps is a red brick lamp room with bench seating and wall-mounted racks. The attached magazines have seven window openings and two door openings, all boarded. Two central iron chimney flues rise above the roof level in front of the shelter above. The interior of the magazines are arranged as two pairs of shell and cartridge stores to each side of a central passage. The shell stores are to the front and the cartridge stores to the rear. The cartridge stores are enclosed by a brick wall and lit with lamp windows. Serving hatches open from each end into areas with lifts to transport the shells and cartridges up to the emplacements. Almost all of the internal fittings have been removed.

Attached to the south of the magazines is a brick artillery store. Opposite the magazines is single-storey red brick building, probably the guard house. It is an irregular rectangle on plan with four bays facing east, the two right bays standing under a lean-to canopy with cast-iron columns. There are two square stacks on the roof. To the east of the guard house is a look-out point with a low stone wall, overlooking the freestanding wall in the fortified ditch below. Below the guns, the battery observation post is rectangular on plan and built of brick and concrete. Wide, narrow openings face seawards, and there is a concrete pillar at the east end of the interior. The position finding cell/ OCEL post below is largely intact although the concrete roof is supported by numerous acro props. There is at least one concrete instrument pillar remaining intact. The position finders and Second World War observation post to the north of Watch House are intact and modern communications equipment is attached to their roofs. Outside the entrance to the battery is a hardstanding with the base and fittings of a flagpole to the centre.

To the north-west is a former depressed range finder station of 1904, which has lost its instrument pillar, probably removed in the Second World War to allow a Lewis or Bren machine gun to be mounted as a light anti-aircraft machine gun (LAAMG) on a tripod.

Exclusions The concrete steps from the South West Coastal Path to Watch House Battery, the modern palisade fencing by the road, and modern equipment attached to the former Second World War Observation Post, are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath these features is included.


Principal Features A deep ditch with masonry and earthworks of the 1860s, protecting the Staddon Heights defences from infantry attack from the south-east. It extends uphill from Fort Bovisand to Watch House Battery with caponiers at each end. Then turns east to Twelve Acre Brake Battery and beyond to the south of Brownhill Battery. It then turns north and runs as a scarp up to Fort Staddon.

Description The ditch is rock-cut and c.10-15m deep and 20-30m wide, except between Watch House Brake and Twelve Acre Brake where it has been built as a ditch across a small combe. The latter section has a freestanding stone north wall, which is battered and buttressed. Its southern wall is formed by a dump of soil forming a bank. The wall is partially collapsed, principally to its west end. Elsewhere, the ditch walls are revetted with masonry in places. The caponiers of Watch House Brake are constructed of rubble stone. The upper gallery is set in the scarp below Watch House Battery and is accessed from the west, behind a late-C19 position finding station. As a whole, the ditch and scarp is largely overgrown with scrub.


Principal Features A battery of 1893, disarmed in c.1903 and partially infilled in the later C20. It survives largely as buried remains. Linked to Watch House Battery and former position finder cells by a former covered way.

Description Most of the battery structure probably survives intact. The southern gun position has been infilled although the concrete apron remains. The entrance to the magazine is visible as a steep hole, and the magazine probably survives underground. The northern gun position is partially visible as a semicircular depression close to the entrance to Staddon Cottage. The magazines are under the terreplein to the south of the gun position, and other structure including the concrete apron is likely to survive below ground.


Principal Features A battery of 1779 with terreplein and curved rampart wall. The above ground buildings of Staddon Cottage (qv.) are excluded from the Schedule. Linked to Staddon Heights Battery by a former covered way.

Description A path leads down from Staddon Heights Battery to the semicircular terreplein of the battery. It is now the front garden of Staddon Cottage, which has some re-laid granite slabs. Further slabs may remain in situ beneath the lawn. The garden retains the original limits and slope of the terreplein, as well as its curved parapet wall of rubble stone. The cottage is a conversion of the guard house, and a stone hardstanding projects from its south end.

Exclusions The Grade II listed Staddon Cottage and its associated buildings, including garages, are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath these features is included.


Principal Features A former rifle butts wall of c.1860-70 and c.1894.

Description A tall target butts wall, constructed of local rubble stone with stone buttresses. It is 300 m long and aligned on a north-west to south-east axis. The south-west side is supported by a series of large stepped buttresses. The junction between the two phases of construction is clearly visible.


Principal Features A barrage balloon mooring site of c.1940 date.

Description The site comprises pre-cast concrete blocks, set flush with the ground surface. The central block is 262cm by 262cm, with a cast-iron ring set in the centre of its upper face. A set of eight evenly-spaced blocks is arranged in a circle around the central block, approximately 3m from it. A further circle of 24 mooring blocks stands approximately 5.5m outside the inner circle. The outer circle secured the guy ropes used when the barrage balloon was fully bedded down. The blocks in the inner and outer circles are all approximately 40cm by 60cm. The inner circle blocks have three cast-iron rings fixed to their upper face, and those of the outer circle have a single cast-iron ring, and each face is inscribed with a number (1 to 24). A further iron ring is set in the ground to the south-east of the outer circle, possibly for the use of a winch lorry.

Extent of Scheduling The scheduled area includes the parts of the glacis to the north and north east of Fort Staddon that survive well, and the course of the military road south of the fort to Brownhill Battery. The south-eastern boundary is defined by the embanked east extent of Brownhill Battery, which adjoins Watch House Battery brake, continuing west to form a southern boundary incorporating Watch House Battery and ditch. The western boundary leads north from Watch House Battery, above the South West Coastal Path, to include the former observation posts and the buried remains of Staddon Heights Battery and Staddon Battery, and the latter's rampart wall. The area to the east of these batteries is included with its earthworks and Barrage Balloon Site, and its north-eastern boundary is defined by the rifle butts wall.


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

Legacy System number:
DV 720
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Oppenheim, M M, The Maritime History of Devon, (1968), pp. 94, 95, 105
Pye, A, Woodward, F, The Historic Defences of Plymouth, (1996)
Fort Staddon, accessed from
Watch House (Brake) Battery, accessed from


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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