Woodland fort


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.

City of Plymouth (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SX 47039 59241


Royal Commission fortification known as Woodland Fort.

Reasons for Designation

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. 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 20th century, they are the most visible core of Britain's coastal defence systems and are known colloquially as `Palmerston's follies'. All examples are considered of national importance. As a result of sympathetic subsequent re-use the Royal Commission fortification known as Woodland Fort is virtually intact and retains a large number of its original features and fittings as well as nearly all of its original buildings. As a result it is a highly important monument of rare type and reflects the national historic response to a perceived external threat. So many of the original features survive that it is possible to understand the original function and layout of the fort which continued in active use militarily for a considerable time protecting Plymouth from land based attack. It is of considerable importance for its national historic, military, strategic and political significance.


See Details.


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 14 October 2015. This 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 a Royal Commission fortification known as Woodland Fort situated to the north of Plymouth overlooking the valley of a tributary to the River Tamar. Woodland Fort survives as four-sided roughly rhomboidal shaped artillery fort surrounded by a deep ditch and is virtually complete. Many of its original buildings including a casemented barrack block and defensible guardhouse for 100 men are still in active re-use. The barrack block and guardhouse contain many original fixtures and fittings including grills, cast iron balcony work, windows, doors and fireplaces. Two caponiers are reached by long tunnels with musketry loops and are on two levels and there are three bomb proof gun emplacements on the southern rampart. Several gun emplacements remain including at least one Haxo casemate. The walled courtyard and extensive buildings are still complete and in use. Musket loops are visible on the south rampart and blocked loops over the entrance passage. There are roofed and turfed blockhouses on the north west and north east corners. The high external rampart surrounds the whole fort and has an extensive foxhole system. In places the ditch is faced with ashlar blocks. The gatehouse has a large wheel fitting and chains remaining. There are also several magazines also actively re-used. The fort was built between 1857 and 1859 and originally housed 18 guns, two in Haxo casemates.


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

Legacy System number:
PY 843
Legacy System:


PastScape Monument No:-437450


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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