Featured image of Dover Castle

Dover Castle- History and Significance

LocationDover, County of Kent, England (Google Maps)
Open for VisitorsYes
Owned byEnglish Heritage
Official WebsiteDover Castle
Rooms AvailableYes (Filming)

Dover Castle is a Grade I listed building in Dover town of England. Thousands of visitors come every year to see the vitally important fortress throughout British history, also known as ‘The Key to England.

Dover Castle History

Dover Castle keep
Dover Castle, keep by Nilfanion, is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Dover Castle was first built by William the Conqueror in the 11th century, immediately after the Battle of Hastings. Over the centuries, the castle was improved, expanded, and renovated. King Henry II significantly revamped the castle in the 12th century into a strong stone fortress. Further adaptations were made over time to cope with the castle’s evolving threats. In the 13th century, the castle was besieged many times during the Baron’s War against King John.

During the early-modern period, Dover Castle was also an essential residence for the reception of foreign guests. The list includes Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in 1522, Anne of Cleves on the occasion of her marriage to Henry VIII in 1539, and Henrietta Maria in 1625, who was en route to marry Charles I.

The Anglo-Spanish War between 1585-1604 led Queen Elizabeth I to ready the castle for an attack. The castle was converted into a prison to hold Spanish prisoners during the Nine Years’ War of 1688-1697 and the War of Spanish Succession between 1701-1714.

Today, the castle is a major tourist attraction owned and operated by English Heritage, who have largely renovated the castle’s interior.

Dover Castle Architecture

Dover Castle, Constable's Gate
Dover Castle, Constable’s Gate by Michael Coppins, is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

The architectural history of Dover Castle involves many changes made to strengthen the fort, which led to the destruction of much of the medieval fabric. The entire site of the castle is enclosed in a thick ‘curtain wall’ built in the 12th century. Two entrances break it on its Eastern side, Canon’s gateway for the entry of cars and Constable’s gateway, which is mainly a pedestrian access point.

The Great Tower is the castle’s main attraction and was built by Henry II in the twelfth century. The tower is situated at the heart of the estate, surrounded by the Inner Bailey wall. It extends over three levels, including a banqueting hall, kitchen, storeroom, and bedroom. All of them have been beautifully designed in vibrant colours to evoke the times and life of King Henry II.

Dover Castle Tickets

Dover Castle tickets can be booked in advance at the best price, as the admission fee would be higher if you choose to pay on the day of your visit. You can book your advance ticket online up to 8:45 am on the day of your visit.
The castle is open from 10 am to 5 pm on all days of the week. However, some sites are busy during holidays, so you should avoid visiting between 11 am and 2 pm as it is their busiest time of the day.

An adult ticket for the castle costs £21.80, while a Children’s ticket costs £13. A Family Ticket will cost you £56.60, which includes one adult and two children. The ticket price includes access to the Secret Wartime Tunnels complex and the Underground Hospital tour.

Inside Dover Castle

Visitors can go inside the castle and explore its underground tunnels, view numerous exhibitions, and immerse themselves in the lives of Dover Castle’s former inhabitants and their history. One of the most exciting and recent attractions is the Secret Wartime Tunnels. These tunnels were begun during the Napoleonic Wars and greatly extended during World War II. These tunnels are reputed to be so haunted that English Heritage even organizes ghost tours for visitors.

Underground Hospital tunnel, Dover castle
Underground Hospital tunnel, Dover castle by Nilfanion, is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
Bedroom in Dover Castle keep
Bedroom in Dover Castle keep by Nilfanion, is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Facts about Dover Castle

Some interesting facts about Dover Castle are listed below:

  • The Romans built a lighthouse there in the 1st century CE, and a Saxon church of Saint Mary was built in 1000 CE. The Dover Pharos is today one of only three Roman lighthouses to survive from the whole of the former Roman Empire. It is also the most complete standing Roman building in England.
  • Throughout the First World War, Dover harbour was one of the main links in the chain supplying Britain’s armies in Europe.

Frequently Asked Questions

When was Dover castle built?

Dover Castle was a motte and bailey castle built in 1066 CE by William the Conqueror.

Who built Dover castle?

Dover Castle was largely built by William the Conqueror, who built the castle to prevent anyone from making an invasion like his own.

Have you visited this castle before? If yes, why not share some beautiful pictures with us!
You can email us your pictures of the castle at castrumtocastle@gmail.com. Please use the name of the castle in the subject line.
Also, don’t forget to mention your name and social media profile link if you want the credits!

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