Fort Royal

Overview

Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
1002941
Date first listed:
12-Aug-1949
Date of most recent amendment:
25-Aug-2020
Statutory Address:
9-19 Royal Albert Close, Worcester, WR5 1BZ
Statutory Address:
Fort Royal Park, Worcester, WR5 2DJ

Map

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Location

Statutory Address:
9-19 Royal Albert Close, Worcester, WR5 1BZ
Statutory Address:
Fort Royal Park, Worcester, WR5 2DJ

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

County:
Worcestershire
District:
Worcester (District Authority)
Parish:
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:
SO8545854339

Summary

A C17 Civil War fort of phased construction on a hilltop park location with landscaped bastions and curtain walls surviving as earthworks and potential outworks surviving beyond the scheduled area.

Reasons for Designation

The remains of the mid-C17 English Civil War defences at Fort Royal, Worcester, are scheduled for the following principal reasons:

* Survival: the upstanding earthworks represent legible remains that demonstrate the Civil War defensive line at this location outside the City; * Period: the battles and sieges of the English Civil War (1642-1652) were the last major active military campaigns to be undertaken on English soil; * Rarity: it is a rare survival nationally of upstanding remains associated with the defence of a major urban settlement during this conflict; * Documentation (historic): the location and major features of the monument are well understood from historical accounts and through C18 and C19 cartographic evidence; * Documentation (archaeological): the remains have been subject to a number of desk-based and topographical assessments and some small-scale excavation, as well as some inconclusive investigation of 2019; * Potential: in addition to the upstanding earthworks, it is likely that buried remains will survive and provide valuable information about the construction and use of these defences, including the original cut of the ditches and artefacts relating to the site's C17 military use.

History

Fort Royal Hill appears to have been woodland in prehistory and pasture from the Roman period until the English Civil War. The hill belonged to the hospital of St Wulstan (later The Commandery) during the medieval period when it was known as Colehull or Cole Hill. Its location to the south east of the City of Worcester was a natural vantage point and two sets of fortifications were built between 1642 and 1651. The extent and form of the 1642 defences is not clear, but they were ‘small workes’ which were replaced with a ‘Great Sconce’ in 1644-1665. During the Siege of Worcester in 1646 the fort was part of the defences to the city.

In 1651, Royalist troops rebuilt and possibly enlarged the defences at Fort Royal so that they could protect both the London Road and the low lying south eastern defences of the city, to which the fort was connected by two earthwork lines. Fort Royal is shown on a 1723 map (from a 1660 plate) as square on plan with diamond-shaped bastions to each corner and bulwarks extending to the north-west and south-east. An apparently contemporary charcoal drawing of the fort survives in the triforium of Worcester Cathedral choir, and shows cannons on the east bastions and a small building in the centre of the fort. The fort played a significant role in the Battle of Worcester in September 1651 and was taken by Parliamentarians towards the end of the battle and then used to bombard the city. The Royalist army was defeated, Charles II escaped into exile and the English Civil Wars came to an end. The fortifications were partly removed (slighted) following the battle, and the land reverted to pasture.

A deerpark was created on the hill towards the end of the C17 when it was under the tenure of the Wylde family of The Commandery. Fort Royal is shown, possibly with a park pale surrounding it, on the Worcester City plan of 1741 by John Doharty. The plan also shows an avenue of trees orientated north-east to south-west, down the hill, with a small building to the south side of the avenue. A semi-circular feature with wings at the summit of the hill may represent the visible earthwork remains of the north-east and south-east bastions. A large circular feature is shown in the field beyond the pale, although it is absent, along with any other outworks on this side of the fort, from the 1660 map.

The park appears to have remained relatively unchanged throughout the C18, although there was some further tree planting. From the early C19 the land around the park was leased as building plots and developed, and Fort Royal House was built on the fort in the mid-C19. It was reported later that during the construction of the house workmen discovered “a portion of a subterranean passage or cavern, which is supposed to have been made for the accommodation of the soldiers, or perhaps as protecting casemates, or it may have been a place for cooking purposes”. Other finds made in the C19 included cannon balls, bones, coins and tobacco pipes. A map of 1879 by Fraser, declared to be drawn from ‘remains now visible’, shows four diamond-shaped bastions to a rectangular fort with Fort Royal House built within. Two outworks are shown marked ‘VALLUM or DITCH’, one to the north and one to the south-west. A third outwork to the north-west is marked ‘COVERED WAY’ and leads to The Commandery.

The Ordnance Survey Map of 1886 was probably the first accurate survey of the earthworks and shows a main enclosure 50-60m across and the four bastions with steep oval banks. Traces of the remains of features to the west and north-west are shown, which may be Civil War outworks but also could be unrelated features. A boundary stone is marked on the ward boundary through the bastions to the south and east of the house. In 1914 a portion of the park was given over to public use, which was increased in size in the 1960s when it incorporated the allotment gardens on the southern half of the hill. Fort Royal House was subsequently converted into private residences as part of the adjacent Royal Albert Close development, which was built as sheltered accommodation with landscaping in the early 1970s, and is partially within the monument. Archaeological investigations were carried out during 1969 when a section of the east ditch was excavated, establishing its position and method of backfill. Excavation and geophysical survey of the fort interior found two phases of levelling, for a sunken garden and a tennis court. Several excavations took place on the site in 1969.

In 2011 a topographical survey was carried out in Fort Royal Park. A number of features identified on earlier surveys including ditches and banks were no longer identifiable. In 2019, a geophysical survey was carried out on parts of the hill and fort. The survey data did not identify any archaeological features outside the former bastion locations, although the survival of the outworks depicted on historic mapping could not be disproved, and outworks may remain outside the designated boundary of the monument.

Details

PRINCIPAL FEATURES: the remains of the English Civil War fortifications on Fort Royal Hill, a prominent hill overlooking the City of Worcester from the south-east. It includes the earthwork remains of Fort Royal, a Civil War bastion trace fort originally star-shaped in plan, which survives as an enclosure with large earthwork banks and a possible exterior quarry ditch. The fort was constructed between 1643 and 1646 with modifications in 1651.

DESCRIPTION: the enclosed area is sub-square in plan with low earthwork curtain walls each approximately 50-60m long as constructed. At each corner is a rounded earthwork bastion, those to the north-west and south-west being approximately 33m wide and protruding about 22m from the curtain walls. Only relatively small parts of those to the north-east and south-east remain outside residential developments and private gardens. The area within the curtain walls has seen the introduction of housing with the mid-C19 Fort Royal House and five of the mid-C20 Royal Albert Close houses, car parking, landscaping and minor structures. The two sandstone piers that stand within the eastern boundary of the monument are thought to mark a former entrance to Fort Royal House and were apparently built using stone taken from the old City Wall.

The areas of public park both within the curtain walls and in the bastion areas are landscaped and have tarmac footpaths, fixed furniture and lighting, and bedding. There are no standing remains, although two sandstone piers at the east entrance to the fort (SO8548654288) are thought to be of C19 date using reclaimed stone taken from the old City Wall. The north-west slope, outside the designated boundary, is the location of former outworks that may survive as buried remains, but these were not identified in geophysical survey in 2019. Finds made within the monument have included cannon balls, bones, coins and tobacco pipes.

EXCLUSIONS: the surfaces of all metalled paths and steps, benches, railings, fence posts and other modern surface, signposts, lamp posts, and other above ground structures are excluded from the scheduling. The ground beneath all these is, however, included.

Legacy

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

Legacy System number:
WT 312
Legacy System:
RSM - OCN

Sources

Books and journals
Pevsner, N, Brooks, A, The Buildings of England: Worcestershire, (2007), 769
Websites
Page, W, and Willis-Bund, J W, A History of the County of Worcester: Volume Four, The City of Worcester: Introduction and Borough, 1924, 377-390, accessed 22/10/2019 from https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/worcs/vol4/pp376-390
Pastscape: Fort Royal, Monument Number: 116142, accessed 22/10/2019 from https://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=116142&sort=2&rational=m&recordsperpage=10&maplat=52.18679970&maplong=-2.21285055&mapisa=1000&mapist=os&mapilo=-2.2129&mapila=52.1868&mapiloe=w&mapilan=n&mapios=SO854543&mapigrn=254350&mapigre=385450&mapipc=
UK Battlefields Resource Centre - Battle of Worcester: 3rd September 1651, accessed 16/10/2019 from http://www.battlefieldstrust.com/resource-centre/civil-war/battleview.asp?BattleFieldId=49
Other
Fort Royal Park, Worcester, Gephysical Report, Project No. 194265, RSK, 2019
Hodgetts, C, Fort Royal Park, Worcester - Landscape History, 2012
Mayes, S, Fort Royal Park, Worcester, Headland Archaeology, 2011
Miller, D, & Dalwood, H, Desk Based Assessment of Fort Royal Park, Worcester, Worcestershire County Council, 2006
Worcestershire HER Monument Report: WCM96141 Fort Royal

Legal

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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