Upnor Castle

Upnor castle is a small Tudor Castle on the West Bank of the river Medway opposite Chatham dockyard. It was built to protect Queen Elizabeth's warships anchoring in the River.

It was built in 1559 and consisted of the water bastion and and the residential block with 2 towers either side.(not the present towers) The Gatehouse and moat were added later.

Around the turn of the 16th and 17th Centuries the Palisade in front of the Water Bastion was constructed along with the Moat around the landward side,with Flankers to defend the curtain wall. The Gatehouse and Drawbridge were also been built at this time.


Dutch Raid of 1667

During the 2nd Dutch War,after a victorious Battle at sea,the English Government decided there was no more to fear from the Dutch. They chose to keep their Fleet at home and rely on fortifications for its protection.

But a squadron of Dutch ships sailed up the Thames to Gravesend,then went back to sheerness and attacked and burnt the unfinished fort there. Between Hoo Ness and Gillingham was a large Chain (Boom) to stop enemy ships sailing further up the Medway,but the dutch managed to break through it. Two Gun Batteries had been thrown up either side of the chain but the Dutch had found these no problem either. The Dutch burnt several English ships and then they captured the ship "The King Charles" and carried it off with them. They Anchored when the tide turned and did not resume untill the next day. The English threw up another gun Battery (Middleton's Battery) next to Upnor Castle. When the Dutch resumed they came under heavy artillery and musket fire,many more ships were burnt but they could proceed no further and retreated to Queenborough (Isle of Sheppey) where they remained for several days until setting sail again.

Fortress to Magazine

The Embarrisment of the Dutch Raid on the Medway led the English government to build new Fortifications around England and along the Medway, with new Forts being built at Cockham wood and at Gillingham.

Upnor Castle was reduced in importance of defence and turned into stores and Magazine. Hundreds of barrels of Gunpowder were shipped from the Tower of London to the Castle. More changes were made to the castle and by 1698 the castle looked much as it does today. To the Southwest of the castle barracks were built. The castle remained as a Magazine untill 1827.

After 1827 new Magazines were built to the North and the castle was turned into an ordnance laboratory.

In 1872/73 a railway was built between Upnor and Chattenden Barracks where the School of Military Railways was housed.

In 1891 Upnor Castle was taken over by the Admiralty from the War office. Since then the castle has had various uses. In WW2 it was used as a Magazine Establishment and it also had 2 bombs dropped in the garden of Upnor House. After the war it had some restoration work carried out on the castle and since 1961 it has been maintained as a national monument.

Today the castle and some of the grounds are open to the general public for some of the year for a small entry fee.

The Gatehouse.


South Tower and palisading (spikes) along the Curtain Wall.


The Gatehouse from the castle courtyard.


The Sally Port that leads from the courtyard into the moat.


Inside the main building that was converted into a Gunpowder Magazine.


More Gunpowder barrels with part of Windlass (on the right) that was used for winching the barrels and other stores up from the Water Bastion.


Stairs between the Water Bastion and Magazine.


Cannons on the Water Bastion.


Part of the facade of the main building as seen from the Water Bastion.


The doorway leads into a vauted passageway that goes to the North Tower on the right.


Plan of the Ground Floor of the Castle.