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.

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.