Words by Tom Hackett, Front of House Membership Manager, Dover Castle
If you find yourself reading this blog then I have a question to ask you. Have you ever visited Dover Castle? If the answer is no, then let me tell you a little bit about what you’ve been missing. If the answer is yes, brilliant, but did you manage to see everything within the expansive grounds? There is a wealth of history, adventure and discovery within our walls and we would love to welcome you all for a visit soon. Let me explain a bit about what Dover Castle has to offer and why it’s so special.
In the South Eastern corner of England Dover Castle sits majestically atop the famous White Cliffs, looking over to France. Whether you approach on foot, by bike or in a car, the ‘Key to England’ has a commanding presence over the local area and you will find it hard not to be in awe of its image. Speaking personally, I have worked at Dover Castle for nearly 4 years now and every morning that I arrive at the bottom of the A20, just as the Castle begins to appear on the horizon, I still find it hard not to marvel at its splendour.
Once you step foot in the grounds of the Castle you are truly spoilt for things to see and do, it’s safe to say that we have something for almost everyone. First of all there is the Roman lighthouse, sitting right next door to our Anglo-Saxon Church. The lighthouse itself was constructed nearly 2000 years ago! We have the imposing Great Tower itself sitting in the middle of the Keep Yard, which was completed at the end of the 12th century by King Henry II. Moving further to the North you will find the Medieval Tunnels which were constructed around the time of the siege in 1216, to successfully protect the Castle against the invasion of Prince Louis from France. Is the Second World War more to your taste? Well, we have expansive sets of tunnels at the Southern end of site which were originally excavated during Napoleonic times, but later expanded and reused during the Second World War. One set of tunnels were used to plan and organise Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of the British and allied forces from Dunkirk and the other set, slightly later in date, were used as an Underground Hospital. How about the First World War I hear you ask, well we have something to cover that as well. Sitting right on the cliff edge is a World War One Fire Command Post, with viewing platform on top. This is one of my favourite buildings on site as the views of the cliffs, the port and over to France can be absolutely spectacular. Aside from all of the historical wonder we have expansive grounds and a lengthy battlements walk, so whether you’re looking for a casual stroll, to tire the kids out, take the dog on a walk or you need to get your 10,000 steps in for the day, Dover Castle has got you covered.
If you’re really lucky you may even stumble (hopefully not literally) across some of the Castle’s wildlife. This ranges from baby seagulls atop the ticket office roof, to bats within the more remote areas of site, to foxes that roam the grounds in the late afternoon, to sparrowhawks that soar high above the Great Tower. Over the lockdown period the site really came to life, even without all of our usual visitors.
Since Saturday 4th July 2020 we have been welcoming visitors back to our site, after weeks of hard work to make it safe for staff, volunteers and visitors alike. If you like the sound of what you’ve been reading above, please come and say hi in the near future. We’d love to welcome you as you step into England’s story and discover the wonders of Dover Castle for yourself.