Notes: Castle is well sign-posted and has a free car park in the immediate vicinity.
WHAT IS THERE TO SEE?
A very heavily modified Tudor castle with significant upgrades and changes being made to support a new function as home to the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. The state apartments are viewable; indeed Walmer is closer to being a stately home than a castle now.
One of thee castles built by Henry VIII to prevent a landing on the beaches of Deal, Walmer Castle was garrisoned upto the Napoleonic Wars. At the sametime it was being transformed from its original humble origins into an impressive stately home for the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports; a role it performs to this day.
HISTORY OF WALMER CASTLE
Walmer Castle was part of the 1539 fort building programme commissioned by Henry VIII to provide defence to identified weak spots along the coast against a potential French or Spanish invasion in the wake of the Act of Supremacy (1534). This legal provision had made the King, rather than the Pope, "supreme head" of the English church prompting condemnation from both countries. Furthermore, following the peace between France and the Holy Roman Empire, the former had the capacity to mount an invasion against England. A Device (Act) was issued commencing a fort building programme to provide defences at vulnerable points along the coast of which Walmer was one.
Built to a concentric design with a central tower surrounded by four lower rounded bastions, Walmer Castle was less complex than the fort at Deal but nevertheless still had provision for three tiers of guns able to fire out onto the beach and beyond. Designed to operate in conjunction with both Deal and Sandown Castles, the three fortifications were connected by an earthwork bank that ran the length of the beach.
The invasion fears of the 1540s passed without incident but the castle remained garrisoned and would have stood on alert at the Spanish Armada passed in 1588. The forts remained in use and were still active in the seventeenth century when, during the Civil War, they were held by Parliament. They saw no action in the first Civil War but in 1648 the Navy, some of which was based in Deal, rebelled and seized control of them. Parliamentary forces responded and at the Battle of Maidstone (1 June 1648) the rebellion was crushed. Walmer was besieged between 15 June and 12 July only surrendering due to a lack of provisions.
In 1708 Walmer Castle was re-assigned as an official residence for the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports - a function it still performs to this day. Although the castle remained armed throughout the Napoleonic wars, new accommodation was built and the small fort was converted into a country residence. One of the more famous residents was Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington.