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Portland Castle

List Entry Summary

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 Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Portland Castle

List entry Number: 1015326

Location

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Dorset

District: Weymouth and Portland

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Portland

National Park: N/A

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 09-Oct-1981

Date of most recent amendment: 25-Sep-1997

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 22964

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Artillery castles were constructed as strong stone defensive structures specifically to house heavy guns. Most date from the period of Henry VIII's maritime defence programme between 1539 and 1545, though the earliest and latest examples date from 1481 and 1561 respectively. They were usually sited to protect a harbour entrance, anchorage or similar feature. These monuments represent some of the earliest structures built exclusively for the new use of artillery in warfare and can be attributed to a relatively short time span in English history. Their architecture is specific in terms of date and function and represents an important aspect of the development of defensive structures generally. Although documentary sources suggest that 36 examples originally existed, all on the east, south and south east coasts of England, only 21 survive. All examples are considered to be of national importance.

The artillery castle at Portland represents one of the best preserved and best known examples of its class. The structure of the main citadel is a particularly good survival and is associated with almost the full range of other original structural components, including the master gunner's quarters, gun emplacements and the castle yard. Historical sources suggest that the structure was used as a prison and an ordnance store, prior to conversion into a domestic residence during the 19th century. This use caused very few structural changes and ensured the castle was well maintained. The artillery castle displays most of its original architectural features and has close historical associations with the adjacent harbour, dockyard and nearby town. Portland Castle is open to the public.

History

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Details

The monument includes an artillery castle situated along the northern shore of the Isle of Portland, overlooking Portland Harbour to the east and Weymouth Bay to the north. The site, known as `Portland Castle', represents one of a pair of coastal fortications constructed during the reign of Henry VIII in order to provide protection for the sheltered waters of Weymouth Bay. The two forts are sited on opposite sides of the bay and are inter-visible. Portland Castle, which is Listed Grade I, has a central citadel which is fan- shaped in plan. The structure is composed of ashlar dressed Portland Stone producing a `rounded' external appearance. The citadel includes a single storey gun room facing across the harbour, and a two storey building situated to the rear. The gun room was originally roofed and has embrasures for a further (upper) battery of five guns protected by an embattled parapet along the northern side. This also shielded a second battery situated on the roof of the accommodation block. The two storey building to the rear includes a central hall which is octagonal in plan, with wings radiating to the east and north west. The structure could, if necessary, accommodate a third battery on the roof which was also protected by an embattled parapet. Access to the main building was provided by an entrance on the north western side. This originally included a drawbridge over a moat and an internal passage way built as a `dog-leg' in the thick outer wall. The passageway leads into a central hall with a large decorated post supporting the ceiling. The post is reputed to have been derived from Bindon Abbey in the Isle of Purbeck, during the earlier part of The Dissolution. To the south and south east of the citadel was an outer yard, bounded by a stone wall and external ditch. The yard contained a large gun platform to the east of the citadel and a smaller example to the west. In the south western corner of the yard was a two storey 17th century building which was incorporated into the outer wall. The building is shown on a map of 1716 as `L'-shaped and comprising a brewhouse and stable along the north-south axis, with an extension to the east forming the sutler's house. The structure was partly demolished at the beginning of the 20th century, although the remainder continues to be occupied as a domestic residence. The outer defences along the landward side of the fortification are known to have included a length of bank along the south eastern side by 1623. This bank had dimensions of 27m in length, 14.4m in width and about 1.2m in height. A plan of 1816 shows a ditch adjacent to the wall of the yard; this was later infilled, although it survives as a buried feature approximately 5m wide. The construction of the fortification followed the advice of a Commission set up by Henry VIII in 1539, in response to a possible threat of French invasion. The castle formed part of a chain of similar forts built along the South Coast at this time. It was also among the first to be operational, as it may have been complete by late 1540 and was in service by early 1541. The fortifications are known to have cost 4965 pounds to construct, a fee met at Royal expense. The paymaster was Oliver Lawrence, although the designer is unknown. During the Civil War the castle was the scene of some fighting, after which it was used as an ordnance store and later a prison. Historical sources suggest that the castle had fallen into some disrepair by 1680, although it was renovated by Queen Anne in 1702. During the 19th century, the citadel was occupied as a residence, when wooden panelling was first added to the interior. The structure is now in the care of the Secretary of State and is open to the public. Excluded from the scheduling are all modern fixtures and fittings within the artillery castle and the Commandant's House which is used as a residence (Listed Grade II*), although the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 250
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 252
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 250
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 250
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 250
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 250
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 250
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 250
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 250
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 250
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 250
Wheatley, G, Portland Castle - A Teachers Guide, (1994), 13
Wheatley, G, Portland Castle - A Teachers Guide, (1994), 13
Wheatley, G, Portland Castle - A Teachers Guide, (1994), 9
Wheatley, G, Portland Castle - A Teachers Guide, (1994), 13
Wheatley, G, Portland Castle - A Teachers Guide, (1994), 13
Wheatley, G, Portland Castle - A Teachers Guide, (1994), 13
Wheatley, G, Portland Castle - A Teachers Guide, (1994), 13
Wheatley, G, Portland Castle - A Teachers Guide, (1994), 9
Wheatley, G, Portland Castle - A Teachers Guide, (1994), 9
Wheatley, G, Portland Castle - A Teachers Guide, (1994), 11
Morley, B, 'Archaeological Journal' in Portland Castle, , Vol. Vol 140, (1983), 72
Other
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:2500 Series Source Date: Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Dimensions
Wheatley, Genevieve, A Teacher's Handbook to Portland Castle, 1994,
Wheatley, Genevieve, A Teacher's Handbook to Portland Castle, 1994,

National Grid Reference: SY 68463 74361

Map

Map
© Crown Copyright and database right 2017. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2017. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

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This copy shows the entry on 18-Nov-2017 at 06:11:17.

End of official listing