Notes: Castle is not signposted at all but can be found at the end of Sandown Road. Limited on-road parking is available here.
WHAT IS THERE TO SEE?
Nothing original. The remains of the castle, including part of the West Wing and a Basement, are buried in the concrete defences that make up the sea wall. However the location is marked out and an information panel installed. The strategic position of the castle can be appreciated.
NO OFFICIAL SITE
Castle was buried by the local council.
1. Walmer and Sandown Castles both came under the command and control of Deal.
2. Henry VIII built two ‘Sandown Castles’. The first was here at Kent, the second was on the Isle of Wight (click here for details). Both suffered due to coastal erosion.
Little remains of Sandown Castle and what does is not visible. However the strategic importance of this small castle, which held out for three months against a Parliamentary siege, can be appreciated from the mound under which it has been buried.
HISTORY OF SANDOWN CASTLE
Sandown Castle was the most northerly of three forts built to defend the Downs - the stretch of water between the Goodwin Sands and the coast which has for centuries offered a safe anchorage to ships. Built to a concentric design identical in size to nearby Walmer it was designed as a flanking and sub-ordinate fort to Deal Castle. All three Downs forts were constructed on the orders of Henry VIII to guard against a possible invasion by French or Spanish forces. In 1534 he had signed the Act of Supremacy - a legal provision which had made him, rather than the Pope, "supreme head" of the English church. Furthermore a peace agreement between France and the Holy Roman Empire gave the former the capacity to mount an invasion. The Downs were highlighted as a vulnerable and accordingly Sandown Castle, along with Deal and Walmer, were built between April 1539 and Summer 1540. The three forts were connected by a 2.5 mile earthwork bank augmented by additional earthwork bulwarks.
The invasion scares of the 1530s/40s passed without incident and it wasn't until the second Civil War when Sandown Castle saw action. In 1648 the Navy, which dominated the area and had supported Parliament, changed sides taking all three 'Downs' castles into Royalist hands. The rebellion was suppressed at the Battle of Maidstone (1648) but all three castles fought on and were besieged by Parliamentary forces in June 1648 ultimately being forced to surrender on 23 August 1648.
The castle remained garrisoned until the Napoleonic period but by this stage the sea had defeated the castle. In 1785 water broke into the dry moat and by 1863 it was ruinous and sold for building materials. By 1882 it has been largely demolished and damage to what remained occurred in 1979 when building the sea defences. Today nothing is visible of Sandown Castle with the remains now submerged in concrete or otherwise buried. The grassy mound of earth shown above lies above these submerged remains.