Device Forts

Device Forts

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The Device Forts, also known as Henrician Castles, are a series of artillery
Artillery
Originally applied to any group of infantry primarily armed with projectile weapons, artillery has over time become limited in meaning to refer only to those engines of war that operate by projection of munitions far beyond the range of effect of personal weapons...

 fortification
Fortification
Fortifications are military constructions and buildings designed for defence in warfare and military bases. Humans have constructed defensive works for many thousands of years, in a variety of increasingly complex designs...

s built to defend the southern coast of England by Henry VIII
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

. After his divorce of Catherine of Aragon
Catherine of Aragon
Catherine of Aragon , also known as Katherine or Katharine, was Queen consort of England as the first wife of King Henry VIII of England and Princess of Wales as the wife to Arthur, Prince of Wales...

 England was left politically isolated, and the peace of Nice between France and Spain in 1538 aroused fears of invasion. This threat stimulated the beginning of the first phase of the largest defence programme since Saxon
Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Saxon is a term used by historians to designate the Germanic tribes who invaded and settled the south and east of Great Britain beginning in the early 5th century AD, and the period from their creation of the English nation to the Norman conquest. The Anglo-Saxon Era denotes the period of...

 times. This first phase was known as the 1539 device programme which was followed after renewed threats from the French by a second programme, the 1544 device programme. Henry’s coastal defences ranged from earthen bulwarks to small blockhouses and artillery towers to state of the art Italianate style fortifications. Henry took a personal interest in the military engineer
Military engineer
In military science, engineering refers to the practice of designing, building, maintaining and dismantling military works, including offensive, defensive and logistical structures, to shape the physical operating environment in war...

ing techniques of the time, and approved and amended the designs himself. Although they were built to defend England during Henry’s reign, many of them were used in the English Civil War
English Civil War
The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists...

 and were refortified at various times during the Napoleonic wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

, First
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 and Second
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 World Wars.

1539 Device programme



Before building coastal defences around southern England, Henry VIII built fortifications in the north of the country, although much of his work no longer survives. Most of the work was making additions to existing castles to modernise them, as was done at Carlisle
Carlisle Castle
Carlisle Castle is situated in Carlisle, in the English county of Cumbria, near the ruins of Hadrian's Wall. The castle is over 900 years old and has been the scene of many historical episodes in British history. Given the proximity of Carlisle to the border between England and Scotland, it...

 and Berwick-on-Tweed
Berwick Castle
Berwick Castle is a ruined castle in Berwick-Upon-Tweed, Northumberland, England.The castle was founded in the 12th century by the Scottish King David I. In 1296-8, the English King Edward I had the castle rebuilt and the town fortified, before it was returned to Scotland...

. In 1534 the Act of Supremacy passed by the Parliament of England
Parliament of England
The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England. In 1066, William of Normandy introduced a feudal system, by which he sought the advice of a council of tenants-in-chief and ecclesiastics before making laws...

 made Henry VIII the head of the English church, challenging the authority of the papacy. Pope Paul III
Pope Paul III
Pope Paul III , born Alessandro Farnese, was Pope of the Roman Catholic Church from 1534 to his death in 1549. He came to the papal throne in an era following the sack of Rome in 1527 and rife with uncertainties in the Catholic Church following the Protestant Reformation...

 negotiated a peace in 1538 between Charles V
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

, the Holy Roman Emperor, and King Francis I of France. The peace threatened England, and in response Henry VIII undertook a programme of building forts along England's south coast.

In the first phase of Henry’s fortification programme 30 castles or forts were built. A curvilinear form of fortification was developed which consisted of squat artillery towers surrounded by round bastions to provide platforms for artillery. Good examples of these are Walmer Castle
Walmer Castle
Walmer Castle was built by Henry VIII in 1539–1540 as an artillery fortress to counter the threat of invasion from Catholic France and Spain. It was part of his programme to create a chain of coastal defences along England's coast known as the Device Forts or as Henrician Castles...

 and Deal Castle
Deal Castle
Deal Castle is located in Deal, Kent, England, between Walmer Castle and the now lost Sandown Castle .-Construction:It is one of the most impressive of the Device Forts or Henrician Castles built by Henry VIII between 1539 and 1540 as an artillery fortress to counter the threat of invasion from...

 in Kent, Calshot Castle
Calshot Castle
Calshot Castle is one of Henry VIII's device forts, built on Calshot Spit at the Solent near Fawley to guard the entrance to Southampton Water...

 and Hurst Castle
Hurst Castle
Hurst Castle on the south coast of England is one of Henry VIII's Device Forts, built at the end of a long shingle barrier beach at the west end of the Solent to guard the approaches to Southampton. Hurst Castle was sited at the narrow entrance to the Solent where the ebb and flow of the tides...

 in Hampshire and St Mawes Castle
St Mawes Castle
St Mawes Castle and its larger sister castle, Pendennis, were built as part of a defensive chain of fortresses by Henry VIII to protect the south coast of Cornwall, England, United Kingdom...

 in Cornwall. The Castles of the Downs consisted of Deal Castle
Deal Castle
Deal Castle is located in Deal, Kent, England, between Walmer Castle and the now lost Sandown Castle .-Construction:It is one of the most impressive of the Device Forts or Henrician Castles built by Henry VIII between 1539 and 1540 as an artillery fortress to counter the threat of invasion from...

, Sandown Castle, Kent
Sandown Castle, Kent
Sandown Castle was one of Henry VIII's Device Forts or Henrician Castles built at Sandown, North Deal, Kent as part of Henry VIII's chain of coastal fortifications to defend England against the threat of foreign invasion. It made up a line of defences with Walmer Castle and Deal Castle to protect...

 and Walmer Castle
Walmer Castle
Walmer Castle was built by Henry VIII in 1539–1540 as an artillery fortress to counter the threat of invasion from Catholic France and Spain. It was part of his programme to create a chain of coastal defences along England's coast known as the Device Forts or as Henrician Castles...

, which created a defensive line to protect the good landing grounds and strategic anchorage between the Goodwin Sands and the coast (known as the Downs). They were linked by earthworks and bulwarks to provide further defence along this important stretch of coastline.

1544 Device programme


This was begun after renewed threat from the French in the 1540s and concentrated on the vulnerable area around the Solent
Solent
The Solent is a strait separating the Isle of Wight from the mainland of England.The Solent is a major shipping route for passengers, freight and military vessels. It is an important recreational area for water sports, particularly yachting, hosting the Cowes Week sailing event annually...

 estuary and the Southampton and Portsmouth ports.

This later programme of coastal defences reflect new developments in fortifications, especially in the introduction of Italianate designs of the use of angular features. The earlier curvilinear designs of castles were replaced by square keeps surrounded by angular or arrow-head shaped bastions. Good examples of these are Yarmouth Castle
Yarmouth Castle
Yarmouth Castle is a small off-square blockhouse built by Henry VIII in 1547, to guard Yarmouth harbour on the Isle of Wight. It was built as part of Henry's second device programme to fortify the English coast with a chain of coastal defences known as Device Forts or Henrician Castles. These were...

 and Southsea Castle
Southsea Castle
Southsea Castle is one of Henry VIII's Device Forts, also known as Henrician Castles, built in 1544 on the waterfront at the southern end of Portsea Island . The castle was built to guard the eastern entrance to the Solent and entrance to Portsmouth Harbour...

 built around 1545. In 1547–8, an inventory was made of crown possessions
Inventory of Henry VIII of England
The Inventory of Henry VIII of England compiled in 1547 is a list of the possessions of the crown, now in the British Library as Harley Ms. 1419....

 and this details the cannon and hand-arms of each fort.

List of Henrician castles



Some of the key forts or castles are:
Name County Date
Brownsea Castle Isle of Wight 1545–1547
East Cowes Castle
East Cowes Castle
East Cowes Castle, located in East Cowes, was the home of architect John Nash between its completion and his death in 1835. Nash himself was the designer of the site, and began construction as early as 1798...

Isle of Wight 1539–42
Sandown Castle
Sandown Castle, Isle of Wight
Sandown Castle was built as one of Henry VIII's Device Forts at Sandown on the Isle of Wight from 1544 onwards. The Device Forts, also known as Henrician Castles, were built by Henry VIII as a network of coastal defences to defend against the threat of the French and Spanish after his break from...

Isle of Wight 1545
Sharpenode Bulwark Isle of Wight 1545–1547
St Helens Bulwark Isle of Wight 1539–45
West Cowes Castle Isle of Wight 1539–40
Worsleys castle Isle of Wight 1522–5
Yarmouth Castle
Yarmouth Castle
Yarmouth Castle is a small off-square blockhouse built by Henry VIII in 1547, to guard Yarmouth harbour on the Isle of Wight. It was built as part of Henry's second device programme to fortify the English coast with a chain of coastal defences known as Device Forts or Henrician Castles. These were...

Isle of Wight 1545
Calshot Castle
Calshot Castle
Calshot Castle is one of Henry VIII's device forts, built on Calshot Spit at the Solent near Fawley to guard the entrance to Southampton Water...

Hampshire 1539–40
Hurst Castle
Hurst Castle
Hurst Castle on the south coast of England is one of Henry VIII's Device Forts, built at the end of a long shingle barrier beach at the west end of the Solent to guard the approaches to Southampton. Hurst Castle was sited at the narrow entrance to the Solent where the ebb and flow of the tides...

Hampshire 1541–44
Netley Castle
Netley Castle
Netley Castle is a castle in Netley in Hampshire, England. The castle, now situated near the village of Netley Abbey on Southampton Water, was built in around 1542 as part of Henry VIII's chain of coastal fortifications which are known as Device Forts or Henrician Castles...

Hampshire 1542–45
St Andrews Castle Hampshire 1543–44
Southsea Castle
Southsea Castle
Southsea Castle is one of Henry VIII's Device Forts, also known as Henrician Castles, built in 1544 on the waterfront at the southern end of Portsea Island . The castle was built to guard the eastern entrance to the Solent and entrance to Portsmouth Harbour...

Hampshire 1538–44
Sandsfoot Castle
Sandsfoot Castle
Sandsfoot Castle is one of Henry VIII's Device Forts, also known as Henrician Castles, built in the 1530s to the west of Weymouth, Dorset, England, opposite its contemporary Portland Castle...

Dorset 1541
Portland Castle
Portland Castle
Portland Castle is one of the Device Forts, also known as Henrician Castles, built in 1539 by Henry VIII on the Isle of Portland to guard the natural Portland anchorage known as the Portland Roads. The castle lies in the far north of the island, in the village now called Castletown, near Fortuneswell...

Dorset 1539–40
Camber Castle
Camber Castle
Camber Castle is one of Henry VIII's Device Forts, also known as Henrician Castles, built to protect the huge Rye anchorage .It is approximately 2 km south of Rye and 2 km northeast of Winchelsea....

Sussex 1513–43
Deal Castle
Deal Castle
Deal Castle is located in Deal, Kent, England, between Walmer Castle and the now lost Sandown Castle .-Construction:It is one of the most impressive of the Device Forts or Henrician Castles built by Henry VIII between 1539 and 1540 as an artillery fortress to counter the threat of invasion from...

Kent 1539
Sandgate Castle
Sandgate Castle
Sandgate Castle is a coastal castle at Sandgate near Folkestone in Kent. It was originally built as an artillery castle in 1539-1540 by Henry VIII of England as part of his chain of coastal defences in response to the threat of invasion. As these forts were devised by Henry VIII, they are known as...

Kent 1539–40
Sandown Castle
Sandown Castle, Kent
Sandown Castle was one of Henry VIII's Device Forts or Henrician Castles built at Sandown, North Deal, Kent as part of Henry VIII's chain of coastal fortifications to defend England against the threat of foreign invasion. It made up a line of defences with Walmer Castle and Deal Castle to protect...

Kent 1539–40
Walmer Castle
Walmer Castle
Walmer Castle was built by Henry VIII in 1539–1540 as an artillery fortress to counter the threat of invasion from Catholic France and Spain. It was part of his programme to create a chain of coastal defences along England's coast known as the Device Forts or as Henrician Castles...

Kent 1539
Gravesend Blockhouse Kent 1539
Higham Blockhouse Kent 1539
Milton Blockhouse Kent 1539
East Tilbury Blockhouse Essex 1539–41
West Tilbury Blockhouse Essex 1539
Pendennis Castle
Pendennis Castle
Pendennis Castle is a Henrician castle, also known as one of Henry VIII's Device Forts, in the English county of Cornwall. It was built in 1539 for King Henry VIII to guard the entrance to the River Fal on its west bank, near Falmouth. St Mawes Castle is its opposite number on the east bank and...

Cornwall 1540–5
Little Dennis Blockhouse Cornwall 1544–6
St Mawes Castle
St Mawes Castle
St Mawes Castle and its larger sister castle, Pendennis, were built as part of a defensive chain of fortresses by Henry VIII to protect the south coast of Cornwall, England, United Kingdom...

Cornwall 1540–3
St Catherine's Castle
St Catherine's Castle
St Catherine's Castle is a small fort commissioned by Henry VIII. It is a two-storey building built to protect Fowey Harbour in Cornwall, United Kingdom. A twin battery of 64-pdr RMLS was added on a lower terrace in 1855...

Cornwall 1538–40
Devils Point Artillery Tower Devon 1537–39

Design


Military historian D. J. Cathcart King contrasts Device Forts with medieval fortifications, noting that "by medieval standards their profile is squat; their battlements, unpierced by loops, have rounded merlons and widely-splayed embrasures with sloping sills, to reduce damage by gunfire; and they are robustly built." The early artillery forts are generally in the form of a central round tower surrounded by a variety of concentric elements. Short and squat, with normally 3 tiers of long-distance offensive armament and a couple of tiers of defensive armament. The bays had wide splays for easy traverse
Gun laying
Gun laying is the process of aiming an artillery piece, such as a gun, howitzer or mortar on land or at sea against surface or air targets. It may be laying for direct fire, where the gun is aimed similarly to a rifle, or indirect fire, where firing data is calculated and applied to the sights...

 of the guns
Cannon
A cannon is any piece of artillery that uses gunpowder or other usually explosive-based propellents to launch a projectile. Cannon vary in caliber, range, mobility, rate of fire, angle of fire, and firepower; different forms of cannon combine and balance these attributes in varying degrees,...

, walls were thick and curved to deflect shot, and the medieval portcullis
Portcullis
A portcullis is a latticed grille made of wood, metal, fibreglass or a combination of the three. Portcullises fortified the entrances to many medieval castles, acting as a last line of defence during time of attack or siege...

es, murderholes and drawbridge
Drawbridge
A drawbridge is a type of movable bridge typically associated with the entrance of a castle surrounded by a moat. The term is often used to describe all different types of movable bridges, like bascule bridges and lift bridges.-Castle drawbridges:...

s were perpetuated.

The later forts reflected new developments in fortifications, especially in the introduction of Italianate designs of the use of angular features. They had square keeps surrounded by angular or arrow-head shaped bastions, such as at Yarmouth
Yarmouth Castle
Yarmouth Castle is a small off-square blockhouse built by Henry VIII in 1547, to guard Yarmouth harbour on the Isle of Wight. It was built as part of Henry's second device programme to fortify the English coast with a chain of coastal defences known as Device Forts or Henrician Castles. These were...

.

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