Fort Burgoyne 475m SSE of Guston CE Primary School.
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.
Burgoyne Fort survives well and is a good example of its class. Although of similar form to other Royal Commission fortifications it includes some unique features such as the wing batteries connected by earthwork lines to the main fort, which were necessary to fill the defensive gap with Dover Castle. The original layout is largely unaltered despite the later use as a military depot. It retains some original fixtures and fittings such as iron racers for gun positions, steel shutters in the Central Caponier and original doors and wood panelling in the Officers Quarters. The continued use and adaptation of the fort during the major conflicts of the 20th century enhance its interest and add to its distinctiveness. The fort has group value with contemporary fortifications at Dover Castle.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 17 March 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 19th Century Royal Commission fort, known as Fort Burgoyne, surviving as upstanding remains, earthworks and archaeological remains. It is situated on the summit of an area of high ground just north of, and adjacent to, Dover Castle, and overlooks the coast to the south and east. The fort is polygonal in plan, broadly forming a pentagon in shape except for its west flank, which extends along the crest of the hill. The fort is flanked by two large redoubts; an east and west wing, which are connected to it by ditched earthwork lines.
Around the perimeter of the fort is a concrete and flint revetted ditch, about 10.6m wide at the bottom. In the centre on the north side of the fort is a two-tier double caponier, which originally provided enfilading fire along the ditch. Behind the capionier is an expense magazine. At the north-east and north-west corners, and on the west flank, are two-tier single caponiers. The interior of the fort includes 27 brick-built and earth-covered casemates which provided barrack accommodation and storage space. These are set around a central parade ground. At the entrances to several of the casemates are concrete blast walls, added during the Second World War. Above the casemates is the terreplein, which is accessed by two gun ramps. These ramps originally doubled as traverses, protecting the central parade, and also contain the main magazines. Three pairs of Haxo casemates, providing vaulted emplacements for six guns, are situated on the terreplein. Below the crest of the rampart and at the level of the internal parade is a chemin des rondes, accessed by three tunnels from the casemates. At the ends of the casemates are the Officer’s Quarters with several surviving original features including doors with intact joinery, wood panelling, shelving and stair rails. On the west side of the parade is a single storey block, originally used as storage and wash rooms. In the south-west angle of the fort is a small brick-built ammunition store. A drawbridge and covered way originally provided access to the fort across the surrounding ditch. Part of the drawbridge mechanism and steps of the covered way still remain.
The redoubts which flank the fort provided four and five gun positions respectively, along with the requisite magazine accommodation. The gun battery at the west wing includes a caponier to defend the ditch with flanking fire.
Fort Burgoyne was built between June 1861 and December 1873, following the recommendation of Field Marshall W F D Burgoyne, Inspector General of Fortifications. It was built to prevent an enemy establishing batteries on the high ground opposite Dover Castle and hence to provide protection to the castle on its landward side. The designer was Captain Edmund Du Cane who was also responsible for contemporary works on the Western Heights. It was known as Castle Hill Fort until at least 1864 before being renamed Fort Burgoyne. The fort was designed to mount 29 guns on the ramparts and to accommodate seven Officers and 270 men. In the 1880s it was equipped with six Rifled Breech Loading guns (RBLs) in the Haxo casemates, two 32-pounder smooth bore (SB) guns in the flanking battery to the east, and sixteen 24-pounder carronades in the caponiers. Training huts were built to the south of the fort and served as the precursor to the Connaught Barracks constructed in 1912. During the First World War, brick gun positions and pill boxes were built at the fort and there was a RNAS airfield beside Guston Road. During the Second World War, the fort formed part of the Dover Defence Scheme. Two batteries for 25-pounder field guns were built in concrete emplacements on the chemin des rondes, five were added on the western flank and four on the central caponier. After the war, the fort became a military depot for the Connaught Barracks until the barracks were purchased for housing development in 2007.