Tregantle 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.

Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SX 38629 53339


Royal Commission fortification known as Tregantle 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'. The Royal Commission fortification known as Tregantle Fort survives well and contains many of its original features even down to wood work, fireplaces and boot scrapers which indicates its overall importance and will also contain archaeological and environmental material relating to its construction, development, political, military and social significance, domestic arrangements, periods of re-use and overall landscape context.


See Details.


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 7 December 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.

This monument includes a Royal Commission fortification situated on the summit of a coastal cliff overlooking Whitsand Bay on the peninsula ending at Rame Head. The fortification survives as an irregular hexagonal shaped fort with deep steeply sloping outer ditches to the north, west and east and a redan to the south guarded by a chicane and drawbridge, fully standing internal structures including: barrack blocks, a keep, casemates, gun emplacements, magazines, earthen parapets, stores, musket loops, gatehouse and different terrepleins many with original fixtures and fittings. The keep was designed to be self-defensible, is surrounded by a ditch with revetted sides, had its own drawbridge, casemates and musketry loops and housed the main magazine for the fort and was meant to continue the fight until reinforcements arrived even if the outer work had fallen. The most unusual feature of the fort is the outer medieval style chicane drawbridge over a deep pit which could be drawn up to produce a flush fitting door.

Designed by Lt General Sir WF Drummond Jarvis and built between 1858 and 1866 it was the principal fort for the Antony Position guarding the western approaches to Plymouth. Originally it was intended to house 22 breech loaders (7 inch), 13 rifle muzzle loaders (64 pounders), 10 smooth bore breech loaders (32 pounders) and 26 other mounted guns. However, it was never fully armed and by 1882 there were only six gunners in a fort equipped for 1000. One gun was fired, experimentally, in 1886. The fort was used as an infantry barracks as early as 1891. The associated rifle ranges were built in the early 1900’s following its change to an infantry battalion HQ. After 1918 it was virtually abandoned before being re-opened in 1938.

Tregantle Fort is Listed Grade II.


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

Legacy System number:
CO 648
Legacy System:


PastScape Monument No:-436661


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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