The Great Tower of Dover Castle

BookThe Great Tower of Dover Castle

The Great Tower of Dover Castle

History, Architecture and Context

Historic England


November 20th, 2020





Dover Castle is one of England’s greatest fortresses. At its heart lies the Great Tower, a huge Anglo-Norman keep that has dominated the White Cliffs since the 1180s, remaining in continuous use thereafter. This book explores the history and development of the Great Tower in detail, beginning with its construction in the reign of Henry II and ending when the Ministry of Works took it over in 1930, to conserve and open it as a monument for public visits. 
The book is comprised of several chapters by thirteen contributors, and looks at three main themes. The first examines the making of the Great Tower as the centrepiece of Henry II’s rebuilding of the whole castle on an immense scale in the 1180s, pointing to its English and Continental ancestry as well as the people and political circumstances which brought about its creation. The second theme is concerned with the subsequent history of the building as an occasional royal residence, the end of royal interest in the 17th century and its later use as a prison, barracks and ordnance store between the 18th and 20th centuries. 
A final theme examines trends in how the building has been interpreted as a public monument since 1930 and especially its most recent presentation, in 2009, to evoke appreciation of its use as envisaged when first built in the late 12th century.

'This volume is an exemplar of a deep case study of the practical, academic and philosophical and ethical dimensions of researching the history and archaeology of a site in advance of ambition re-presentation of its heritage that will have resonances for parallel projects and buildings across Europe.'
Oliver Creighton, Medieval Archaeology

Author Information

Paul Pattison is Senior Historian at English Heritage. Steven Brindle is Senior Historian at English Heritage. David M. Robinson is a freelance historian and author.

Table of Contents

Section TitlePage
Preface and acknowledgements
List of illustrations
List of contributors
Chapter 1: King Henry II’s Great Tower and its place in the history of Dover Castle by
David M Robinson, Steven Brindle and Paul Pattison
Chapter 2: King Henry II, Thomas Becket and the building of Dover Castle by John Gillingham
Chapter 3: In the shadow of the castle wall: King Henry II and Dover 1154–79 by Nicholas Vincent
Chapter 4: Dover Castle and King Henry II as a patron of architecture by Lindy Grant
Chapter 5: Dover Castle and the politics of 12th-century Kent by Richard Eales
Chapter 6: The donjon and the documents: Dover Castle from the 12th to the 14th centuries by Christopher Phillpotts
Chapter 7: ‘The girdle around the tower’: the inner bailey curtain wall by Kevin Booth
Chapter 8: Archaeology in the inner bailey by Thomas Cromwell
Chapter 9: Arthur’s Hall and the inner bailey during the Middle Ages by Allan Brodie
Chapter 10: The fabric of the Great Tower: survey and analysis by Kevin Booth
Chapter 11: The Great Tower: context, design and realisation by Steven Brindle and Philip Dixon
Chapter 12: A royal lodging: the Great Tower from c 1480 to c 1700 by Gordon Higgott
Chapter 13: The Great Tower as a military building, c 1680–1930 by Paul Pattison
Chapter 14: Enlightening travellers, entertaining tourists: explaining Dover Castle in the last millennium by Jonathan Coad
Chapter 15: The Great Tower project: an evocation of the Angevin royal palace at Dover by Steven Brindle and Paul Pattison