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 Castles of England - Upnor Castle

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near Upper Upnor, Medway, Kent, England

Upnor Castle is set in peaceful grounds in the village Upper Upnor, 3 miles from Rochester in the south east of England.

Standing on the banks of the River Medway, Upnor Castle is an Elizabethan artillery fort and comprises a triangular water bastion in front of a three storey rectangular fort with semi circular turrets and towers at each end.

The castle is open to the public daily from 10am between April and September until 6pm and during October until 4pm.

Visitors are invited to take an audio tour and to touch the powder barrels and cannons on the site.

The fort is also licensed for civil wedding ceremonies for up to 80 guests.

Upnor Castle was built in 1559 to build, repair and house war ships belonging to Queen Elizabeth, and by 1564 housed 23 of the fleet's largest ships.

In 1585 modifications were planned and the Master Gunner laid a chain across the river to sink enemy ships; which was considered more effective than gunfire. In 1599 a timber palisade was built in the river, the bastion raised and a parapet added. On the landward side a ditch of 18 feet deep and 32 feet wide was dug, the north and south towers, gatehouse and connecting wall were also constructed creating a central courtyard. In the following years the fort was remodeled to accommodate more and more ammunition and by 1623 the fort held 18 guns.

In 1668 the defenses of nearby forts were revised and new batteries built one mile further down stream towards the sea, there was no longer need for the chain across the river and the fort was converted into a gunpowder store. Hundreds of barrels of gunpowder were brought from the Tower of London and by 1691 the fort had to be modified to take the weight of 5,206 barrels.

Barracks to house 64 soldiers were built on the site in 1718 and when the stocks of gunpowder where all finally used up the store closed with the building becoming an Ordinance Laboratory. In 1891 the castle was transferred from the Admiralty to the War Office who continued to use it until it until 1945 when it became a museum owned by English Heritage and run by Medway Council.

Other Castles in the Area
  Allington Castle, Kent
  Cooling Castle, Kent
  Eynsford Castle, Kent
  Hadleigh Castle, Essex
  Leeds Castle, Kent
  Rochester Castle, Kent

Rochester Castle
Upnor Castle from the river (Upnor Reach)

Photograph by Tim Robinson. Some rights reserved.  (view image details)

Rochester Castle
Upnor Castle. This Tudor castle, built in the 16th century, was designed by Sir Richard Lee in order to protect warships that anchored in the River Medway

Photograph by Chris Gunns. Some rights reserved.  (view image details)

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