Landguard Fort and associated field works
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1018969
Date first listed: 07-Nov-1962
Date of most recent amendment: 09-May-2001
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Suffolk Coastal (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: TM 28555 31855
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
Reasons for Designation
Landguard Fort and its associated fieldworks are exceptional in that the
visible remains present an unusually complete physical record of developments
in military engineering and the response to perceived changes in coastal
defence requirements over a period of more than two hundred years; from the
early 18th to the mid-20th century, and in particular during the period
between 1890 and 1914. The fortress, which forms the nucleus of the complex,
is thought to incorporate remains of the original 18th century battery and
retains much of the external form and fabric of the fort constructed in the
1740s; knowledge of which is augmented by documentary records including plans
and drawings. The 18th century bastioned fort, influenced by French design,
was typical of its day, and lies within a tradition which spanned the period
from the 17th to the early 19th century. Its designer is not known, but it has
similarities to the first Fort Cumberland at Portsmouth designed by John Peter
Desmaretz, who is known to have surveyed the Haven in the 1740s. The extensive
alterations carried out in the 1870s incorporate some of the distinctive
principles of design adopted in the construction of the so-called Royal
Commission forts. These were constructed along the south and south east coast
following the recommendations of the 1860 Royal Commission on the Defences of
the UK. Characteristic features include the extensive casemate battery faced
with granite and with iron shields protecting the gun embrasures, the design
and furnishings of the casemates, with barrack accommodation to the rear of
the gun compartments, and the design of the magazines below. The design of the
caponier is, however, unique. Although obsolete almost as soon as the
remodelling was completed, the fort remains an impressive example of military
engineering in the third quarter of the 19th century, retaining many original
features:; the iron shielding in particular, is considered to be the best
preserved of any in forts of this period. The ravelin block is believed to be
the only complete surviving example of a submarine mining depot of this date.
The following four decades saw rapid and revolutionary developments in
armaments, and the batteries and fire control systems added during this period
are therefore of particular interest. The further modifications and additions
dating from World War II form part of the extensive and varied system of
coastal defence works constructed in haste prior to and immediately after the
fall of France in May 1940 and are among the more substantial surviving
monuments of that period of national crisis. Additional archaeological
information relating to the occupation and function of the fort from the 17th
to the mid-20th century is retained in the associated buried remains, slighter
earthworks and other features which extend over much of the peninsula and are
an integral part of the monument.
The fort, which is in the care of the Secretary of State and maintained for public display, and adjacent areas of the monument which are maintained as a nature reserve with public access, are a valuable educational and recreational resource.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The monument includes Landguard Fort, built in the 18th century and
extensively remodelled in the 1870s, with associated remains of batteries and
other adjacent installations and fieldworks of varying dates up to and
including World War II. It is thought that buried remains of an earlier, 17th
century fort also survive beneath and to the east of the 18th century fort and
within the area of protection. The fort is situated on a shingle spit on the
east side of Harwich Harbour and, in conjunction with other fortifications
such as Beacon Hill Battery on the opposite side of the Orwell and Stour
estuary, was designed to protect the harbour and dockyard. The spit has grown
in length over the centuries, and the main fortress, which when first built
was at the southern end, is now some 740m from the point. The associated
visible features extend to the north east and south of the fort over an area
approximately 1.4km in length.
The earliest known fortification on Landguard Point was a small sconce of earth reinforced with timber and brushwood which was constructed in 1543 on a site thought to have been about 265m ENE of the fortress as it now stands, at what was then the southern end of the spit. This was dismantled in 1552 but rebuilt and garrisoned in 1588, the year of the Spanish Armada. A map of 1715 shows the remains of this as an hexagonal earthwork measuring about 37m on each side; it is no longer visible and the probable site has been lost to coastal erosion. A second fort, which is shown on the early 18th century plan approximately 175m WSW of the sconce, in a position partly underlying the 18th century fort and extending to the east of it, was built in 1625 for defence against coastal raids by pirates from Dunkirk. This was built of turves and designed by Simon Van Cranfeld in the Dutch style; square in plan with acute angled bastions at the four corners, it was surrounded by a moat 18m wide which was crossed on the north side by a timber causeway and drawbridge. Following the start of the second Dutch War in 1665, work was begun on strengthening the fort to a design by Sir Bernard de Gomme, chief engineer to Charles II, but these modifications, which included the addition of a flint and stone revetment, were not completed until late in the century. It was attacked in 1667 by a Dutch landing party who were beaten off by the garrison under the command of Captain Darrell.
By 1708 the 17th century fort was in a state of decay, and it was decided to demolish and replace it. Although no remains are clearly identifiable above ground and the western part of the site is overlain by later earthworks, the area occupied by the eastern part is marked by slightly raised and uneven ground, and the moat at least, will survive as a buried feature, as may evidence for the buildings which lay within the fort. The original well is still visible beside the emergency battery. In 1717 work began on a new battery, located in the area now occupied by the south western part of the standing fort, rather than on the projected site depicted on the map of 1715, which places it immediately to the south of the 17th century fort. The new battery was an irregular pentagon in plan, without bastions. The two main fronts faced south and south east, and it was surrounded by a ditch flanked by galleries in the counterscarp and with a caponier at the salient on the seaward facing side. It included a small barrack block at the gorge (rear) and had an armament of 20 cannon. The barrack block was enlarged in 1730-31, and sometime after 1736 a new battery with a further ten guns was constructed on the glacis on the south west side of the fort, facing the harbour entrance.
Between 1744 and 1749 Landguard Fort/the battery was rebuilt in the form which it largely retains, as a larger, regular pentagon with bastions at the angles, surrounded by a moat. It was constructed of brick with stone dressings and enclosed a parade ground of about 0.4ha containing a barrack block on the south west side and the Lieutenant Governor's house and Officers quarters on the north west. The gate, on the north east side, was flanked by a guardroom and a cookhouse with a chapel above. It was reinforced by a battery (Beauclerk's Battery) on the glacis to the south west, overlooking the harbour. During the American War of Independence (1775-1783) the fortifications were extended by an engineer officer called Thomas Hyde Page. Two earthwork wing batteries surrounded by wet ditches were built to the north west and south east of the fort, extending across the point; and about 175m to the east of the fort, close to the site of the 16th century sconce, an earthen redoubt known as Raynham Redoubt was constructed, with ramparts known as King's and Prince's Lines across the point to the north and north west of it. These outer fortifications were designed to form an entrenched camp for a mobile field force. When the fortifications were reviewed at the beginning of the 19th century, during the Napoleonic wars, these outworks were found to be poorly designed, and they were demolished in 1803. The site of the south battery, like that of the 17th century fort immediately to the north of it, is marked by an area of raised, uneven ground and parts of the ditches around it will survive as buried features, as will the ramparts to the north west of Raynham Redoubt and possibly the footings of two buildings associated with the King's Lines. Raynham Redoubt itself was adjacent to the site of the 16th century sconce and has also been lost to coastal erosion.
In 1807, the ramparts of the fort were strengthened to take fourteen 32 pounder guns, the existing armament consisting of thirty one 18 pounders, two 12 pounders and one 6 pounder. Apart from successive updating of the armament, the fort underwent no further alteration until 1870, when a review of the Harwich defences found that it was outdated and vulnerable to long range fire; the decision was taken to carry out a major rebuilding. This rebuilding, carried out between 1871 and 1876, resulted in the fortress which remains substantially unaltered to this day. Work began with the demolition of the buildings within the fort, and the curtain wall on the south west side along with its central bastion was also largely demolished. These were replaced by a massively fortified casemate battery which formed the outer part of a new, elliptical keep within the area of the original parade. The north eastern, north western and south eastern curtains and the remaining four bastions were retained, but the south eastern curtain was heightened by the addition of a thick concrete parapet, and three casemates were added on the same side, one in the centre and the other two in the salients of the flanking bastions, known as King's and Holland Bastions.
King's Bastion, at the south western end, was largely rebuilt, probably to take the weight of a heavier gun. The yellowish brick used in this remodelling is readily distinguishable from earlier brickwork which can still be seen in the facing of the north eastern, north western and south eastern curtains and the bastions.
The fortress, which is a Listed Building Grade I, is entered from the north east by way of a concrete bridge across a dry, flat bottomed ditch up to 18m wide, the outer face of which is revetted chiefly in brick. The bridge, which dates from the 1930s, replaced an earlier drawbridge, the pulleys for which can still be seen on either side of the arch of the outer gate. The gate passage through the north eastern curtain is of two bays with an inner gate between, and to either side of the outer bay are entrances to two store rooms. Beyond the inner gate, on the south side of the entry, is a guardroom containing various fittings such as folding cots, and from this a short passage leads to a detention room. Opposite the guardroom is an entry to the cookhouse, now blocked. The entrance passage gives access to the outer parade, onto which face the 18th century casemates in the north western and north eastern ramparts, and mounted on the walls above the casemates here and elsewhere are various hoists and brackets, some of which appear to be also of 18th century date. The casemates display evidence of internal refacing and their arched openings are closed by later brickwork, doors and windows. After 1876 most were used for storage and as workshops, but several display fittings relating to subsequent adaption for other uses at various times. These include the former cookhouse, and adjoining casemates to the north of the entrance, which were converted to ablutions rooms containing showers, baths and washbasins of various dates, and to linen stores fitted with shelves. The casemates to the south of the detention room were used during World War II as telephone rooms, and in the centre of the south west curtain is an original sally port. Casemates in the south eastern curtain, which are screened by blast walls and later 20th century structures, include shell and cartridge stores, with shell tubes and the remains of the hoist used to supply the guns above. One contains a boiler and another, thought to have been converted for use as a decontamination room during the Cold War period of the 1950s, contains shower fittings.
Stairs to the south of the entrance and at the western ends of the north western and south eastern curtains lead to the upper level. The central casemate on the north eastern, seaward curtain was designed to take a 12.5 inch muzzle loader (RML) and contains some of the original fittings. The roof is supported on steel pillars and joists, and there are entrances with stairs and ramps at either end. The two casemates in the Holland and King's Bastions at the eastern and southern angles of the fort were built to take 10 inch RMLs and are roofed in similar fashion. Between the three casemates are firing steps up to the concrete parapet.
The north eastern and north western curtains, which face landward and over the inner harbour, were modified in the 1870s for a lighter armament of smooth bore and palliser converted guns. At either end of the north east curtain are emplacements intended for 64 pounders, each flanked by steps up to the parapet, and between the two emplacements, above the gate, is a covered passage with storage compartments and a central clock chamber off the inner side dating from the later 19th century remodelling. The guns in question were never mounted, although the traverse rails for swivelling gun carriages are still in place, and the original gun embrasures are enclosed by covered machine gun posts dated to World War I, with central steps for access. Infantry firing steps below the parapet on the north western curtain are flanked by covered passages, with shell and cartridge stores off the inner side, possibly converted from earlier hoists for ball and shot. The superstructure of the covered passages on the north western curtain clearly postdates the brickwork of the 1740s but differs from that of the 1870s and perhaps relates to the works carried out in the early 19th century. On the northern and western bastions, known respectively as Chapel Bastion and Harwich Bastion, are barbette emplacements (open platforms with parapets and no embrasures) designed for 9 inch 12 ton RML's, with pivots formed by old gun barrels set vertically, muzzle upward, encircled by traverse rails on a granite base set in concrete. Beneath these, within the bastions, are 19th century cartridge and shell stores, apparently double walled, with inset ventilation bricks.
The principal entry from the outer to the inner parade is situated opposite the outer entrance, through an arched gateway with massive granite dressings, dated 1875 on the keystone. In front of this is a semi-circular, dry moat now crossed by a concrete bridge. The pulleys for a draw bridge and the grooves for the counterweights can be seen to either side of the gate, but it is apparent that these were never functional. The forward and rear arcs of the inner keep which house the casemates and barrack accommodation respectively are of two storeys, with access to the upper level provided by stairways at the northern and southern angles of the ellipse, leading to railed external walkways supported on corbels. At the centre of the inner parade within the keep is a cast iron lamp standard, and set into the ground to the south west of this are flagstones believed to mark the threshold of the entrance to the battery of 1714. Beneath the parade are wells and fire tanks.
Although much of the forward arc of the keep was rebuilt in the later 19th century, the structure displays evidence of a complex sequence of alteration and incorporates elements not only of the fort built in the 1740s but of features thought to relate to the battery of 1717, including the paired slots at either end of the inner wall. On the upper level are the seven 19th century casemates, five of which were to take 12.5 inch 38 ton RMLs, with two at the north western end to take 10.5 inch 18 ton RMLs. They are clad externally in granite, and the gun embrasures are protected by wrought iron shields 0.63m thick. Various fittings, including the bars for the attachment of mantlets (heavy rope mats to protect the gunners from splinters) remain in place within. The original racers for the gun carriages are thought to survive below the present floor. To the rear of the gun compartments are the gunners' quarters, screened by timber partitions which were designed to be removed when the guns were being fired. Traces of blue stencilled decoration survive on the brick vaulted ceilings above. The gun compartments are separated by partitions which are later insertions, and the two casemates at the south eastern end have been further altered, being converted for use as a Seaward Defence HQ in the 1950s and retaining some of the fittings of that period. At either end of the battery are spiral stairs to roof level, where there is an upper railed walkway giving access to observation and control points, including a mining observation post on the roof at the north western end of the battery and a fire command post at the south eastern end. The latter is an L-shaped building, the lower part of which was constructed in 1903, with a second storey added some years later.
At ground level, below the casemates are magazines with recessed tubes containing original winches and pulleys to supply shells and cartridges to the guns above; an access passage in the outer, south western side; and another passage to the rear with hatches, originally glazed, in which lamps could be placed to light the magazines without risk of igniting explosives. Beyond this, immediately to the north west of King's Bastion, is a sally port. A central arched passageway leads through to the caponier from which flanking fire could be directed through loopholes on either side. The caponier has a pitched roof of granite slabs, and the end is protected by a quarter spherical, bomb-proof shield. The foundations of the end of the 18th century bastion, which it replaced, project beyond this and are visible on the ground surface. The bomb-proof barrack block on the opposite side of the keep has a thick outer wall which presents a blank face to the outer parade, and the barrack rooms and offices which it contains, while largely retaining their original form and some of their fittings, display some evidence of adaption for later use.
In the late 1870s Harwich was selected as a harbour suitable for the deployment of mines, and a submarine mining depot was added to the fort, comprising a single storey ravelin block immediately to the west of the fortress. In this building, which now houses a museum, the mines were stored on trolleys which could be run out on a narrow gauge railway through a cutting in the glacis to a small jetty. Parts of the railway and of the wooden pilings of the jetty survive and are included in the scheduling, together with the ravelin block and two engine houses to the rear of it. The mines, once laid, could be detonated by means of electric cables from a room excavated below the casemate battery to the north west of the magazines, and the remains of these cables and the end of the duct which carried them can be seen in the west wall of the room. The infilled cable ponds are to the east of the ravelin block. The system remained operational until 1905, when the Admiralty took over responsibility for submarine mining. The ravelin block continued to serve the Royal Engineers in their capacity as searchlight and communication specialists.
Although impressive in appearance and strength, the 19th century fortress was misconceived for its intended purpose, and the guns, when finally installed, had insufficient range to defend it or the harbour against ships armed with more modern artillery. Between 1888 and 1891 a new battery, known at first as Wing Battery and subsequently as Left Battery, was therefore constructed north east of Holland Bastion, facing the sea. This is now visible as an earthen bank up to 6m high and 157m in length. The original installation included two gun pits housing one 10 inch and one 6 inch Mark IV breech loader. Both were on hydropneumatic (HP) disappearing carriages, the larger gun on an experimental type not used elsewhere in Britain. A second 6 inch breech loader, also on an HP mounting, was added in around 1898. These guns were withdrawn in 1909, and the larger gun pit, which is at the southern end of the battery, was converted to what was recorded as an Anti-aircraft operations room in 1940, the asphalt covered roof of which remains exposed. The two smaller gun pits have been infilled and will survive as buried features, together with the remains of adjacent magazines and crew shelters which had entrances to the rear. The sites of the gun pits are visible at ground level.
To the south east of the fortress is a second battery, known as the Right Battery, which was constructed between 1898 and 1900. This was also armed with one 10 inch and two 6 inch breech loaders, but on barbette mountings which permitted wider arcs of fire and greater angles of elevation. The outer, seaward face of the battery, appears as a sloping earthen bank about 8m high and 120m in length, behind and below which are magazines and shelters with vertical rear walls containing windows, entrances and associated external stairs and railed access walkways. The two smaller, concrete lined gun pits, are now covered by drum-shaped concrete casemates linked by a parapet added in 1940 for protection against attack from the air. The 10 inch gun was withdrawn in 1909, but remains of the gun pit, at the north eastern end, survive below a two storey battery observation post built in 1912 and still containing the base for a depression range finder. This control post replaced an earlier one built in 1902, the shell of which can be seen to the rear of the middle emplacement. On a bank which extends from the north eastern end of the Right Battery, in front of the south east curtain of the fortress, there are also remains of mountings for a practice battery which comprised two 6 inch Mark II breech loaders on slide carriages installed in 1903, and beyond this, to the north east of Holland bastion were bases for another, comprising two 3 pounder quick firing guns installed in 1901, now destroyed by the haul- road. A third battery, named Darrell's Battery after the 17th century commanding officer, is situated overlooking the harbour entrance, on the site of the 18th century Beauclerk's Battery and in front of the casemate battery which it effectively replaced. It was built in 1900-01 with emplacements for two 4.7 inch quick firing breech loaders, and the two gun pits remain together with the parapet and the shafts for the ammunition elevators, with the electrical control gear for the hoists. These are set in an earthen bank about 5m high and 67m in length, linked by a much slighter embankment to the south western end of the Right Battery. Around the original gun pits there are concrete gun houses, and above them are 2 three storey concrete director towers to mount position finder and searchlight control, all of which were added in 1940 when the original guns were replaced by twin 6 pounders.
No significant structural alterations were made during World War I, although a 3 inch Anti-aircraft gun was added to the then existing armament of four guns, and four new searchlights were installed on the site of earlier lights dating to 1901, of which fragments survive, to illuminate the harbour entrance. Features added after the outbreak of World War II in 1939 include, in addition to those already described, three closely spaced concrete shelters to house fixed beam coastal artillery searchlights standing on an embankment to the north west of Darrell's Battery, the remains of the mining depot railway, and two emplacements for 6 inch Mark XXIV guns with shelters and gun stores behind, installed in 1942 between the Left and Right Batteries, opposite King's and Holland Bastions. The fortress itself continued in use as barrack accommodation and offices until the abolition of the coastal artillery in 1956.
Many other associated features of various dates can be seen along the point to the east, south and north of the fort and are included in the scheduling. Among them are two rectangular settings of massive flagstones, probably derived from the 18th century battery, to the east of Right Battery and the adjacent mid-19th century practice battery comprising five circular emplacements with races for centre pivoted traversing carriages. Similar flagstones are set on the concrete base of one of several demolished buildings to the south west, the remains of which border a former access road which runs down the centre of the point. Platforms and footings of other structures are visible also in the angle between the fortress and the Right Battery. Buildings which still stand include a pillbox on the western side of the point, about 200m from the southern end of the Right Battery, and a further coastal artillery searchlight on the eastern side. About 132m NNE of the latter are the searchlight, the superstructure of which has now been demolished leaving only the concrete platform floored with asphalt in which the impression of the base of the installation survives. A broken line of reinforced concrete cubes, the remains of an anti-tank barrier, runs along the eastern shoreline, and on the ground behind this are the remains of slit trenches and other earthworks; these include a polygonal embankment up to 1.5m high situated towards the southern end of the spit and possibly marking the emplacement for a Light Anti-aircraft (LAA) Quad Vickers gun, known to have been sited at approximately this location in 1942.
To the north east of the Left Battery are remains of three rifle ranges of the mid-19th century. An earthen embankment approximately 3m high runs north eastward on a sinuous line from the northern end of the battery for a distance of about 200m to a broader and slightly higher platform, about 25m wide at the base and 57m long, on which parts of the foundations of three small rectangular structures can be seen. Beyond this it continues NNE, just behind and parallel to a modern sea wall for a further 117m. Offset about 25m to the west of the northern end, and linked to it by a slighter bank about 1.5m high, is the southern end of a second embankment about 180m in length. To the west of these earthworks are the remains of the butts for two of the three targets. The northernmost is most clearly visible as a rectangular, flat topped earthwork about 1m high, and the second was for disappearing targets. The targets were serviced by a tramway which ran behind them and around the embankment to the rear, terminating in a rectangular building on the seaward side. Some of the sleepers for the tramway remain visible, and the site of the terminal building is marked by a length of reinforced concrete walling at the base of the bank.
Landguard Fort is in the care of the Secretary of State. Within the area of protection a number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these include a bungalow and adjacent garage, a modern radar tower to the south west of these, a modern DF tower and other recent navigational installations in use, modern transformers and junction boxes and other electrical installations now in use, service poles, all modern railings, fencing and gates post-dating the abandonment of the fort in 1957, the surface of the modern track which runs alongside the base of the Right flank battery on the eastern side and around its southern end (giving access to the bungalow and to the area formerly occupied by a gravel processing plant), the bollards alongside this track, wooden risers of steps cut into the earthworks to provide visitor access, litter bins and all modern information boards and notices. The ground and structures beneath and around these features is included in the scheduling. In addition, the above ground structure of Landguard Groyne, associated side groynes and the concrete sea wall are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: 21407
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Dobinson, C S, Twentieth Century Fortifications in England: Volume 1.4, (1996), 727
Kent, P, Fortifications of East Anglia, (1988), 109-115
Kent, P, Fortifications of East Anglia, (1988), 101-108
Leslie, J F, The History of Landguard Fort in Suffolk, (1898)
Wood, D A, Landguard Fort, Felixstowe, (1983)
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:2500 TM 2832 Source Date: 1963 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:2500 Source Date: 1928 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
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