Fort Clarence was built between 1808 and 1812.The Fort had a Line of Fortified Ditches and Ramparts that stretched from the River Medway to the Maidstone Road.The purpose of the Fort was to defend Rochester from a land attack and to prevent a River-Bourne landing from the part of the river that the fort protects.
At the River Medway end was a fortified Tower called Medway Tower,also built into the Ditch just abover the Medway Tower was a Sally-port where in the event of an attack the Fort could receive supplies and ammunition and then taken to other parts of the Fort via Tunnels.Inside the entrance to the Guardhouse there are loopholes for the defending army to shoot through if the enemy gained access.
Fort Clarence Tower was the heart of the the Fort and it is next to Borstal Road,where there was once a Swingbridge to carry the road over the Ditch and an Archway and Blockhouse to defend the approach of the road.Fort Clarence Tower had several purposes.As well as a high observation post it was heavily armed with Cannons and had Magazines and Tunnels that led to the underground Guardhouse and other parts of the Fort.On the Maidstone Road end of the Fort was another Guardhouse that protected entry into Rochester via Maidstone Road.
Despite all this the Fort was considered obselete even before it was completed.
In 1819 Fort Clarence was turned into a Naval Lunatic Asylum and Hospital.Then in 1845 it ceased being a Hospital and was converted into a Military Prison with new buildings built at the fort,including a house for the Prison Governor,a Cell Block,accomodation for the Warders and a Chapel.Prisoners were often Flogged at fort Clarence as this was a common punishment at this time.
In 1924 the Archway was demolished across the Borstal Road to great controversy of locals and the rubble from the Archway was used to fill in part of the ditch when the Bridge across it was removed.In the early 1930's the Fort stopped being a Military Prison and was occupied till the outbreak of WWII by the 166 City Of Rochester Battery Royal Artillary T.A.then in WWII 33 Battalion Kent Home Guard moved in and the Fort served as their local HQ,Training centre and Stores.The Chapel was turned into a Gymnasium and the Cell Blocks were turned into Ammunition stores.
After the War the Fort remained derelict for many years untill the Post Office bought it,all except Fort Clarence House(Goveners House) which was owned by the Army till 1974.The Maidstone Road Guardhouse,Cell Blocks and chapel were detroyed mid 60's by the Post Office for their new engineering works.
Today Fort Clarence Tower has been turned into Apartments and the Sally Port and a small section of the Ditch still remain.
Fort Clarence Tower from Borstal Road.
The Left hand side of tower (in the above photo) would have defended the Flank of part of the Ditch that used to be there.The slight Arched roof with windows in is a modern feature.
The restored Tower is now Apartments.
The Sally Port in the dry ditch. (the Sally Port is sealed)