Notes: Fort is accessible by foot and easily found on the Quay side walk. No parking immediately adjacent by town parking is available nearby.
WHAT IS THERE TO SEE?
An early sixteenth century artillery fort that proceeded later Tudor forts such as Little Dennis (at Pendennis Castle). The fort is gutted inside by the remains of the stairs and gun ports are viewable.
1. Soldiers for the Second and Third crusades mustered at Dartmouth in 1147 and 1190 respectively before sailing for the Holy Land.
2. Totnes was originally the major harbour on the River Dart but this was superseded as Dartmouth grew.
Built early in the sixteenth century to provide a final line of defence against enemy ships that had forced entry into the harbour, Bayard’s Cove Fort was a forerunner to later Tudor artillery blockhouses. It witnessed two brief actions during the Civil War and in the early years of World War II was used as a Machine Gun post.
HISTORY OF BAYARD'S COVE FORT
By the twelfth century, Dartmouth was a major port with its deep water harbour and ease of access to the English Channel putting it at the forefront of mercantile trade with France. Keen traders of wine and later cloth, its mariners became famed for aggressive (almost piratical) practises and this prompted fears that the wealthy suburbs would become a target for competitors. After some reluctance to fund the project, the Dartmouth Corporation built first Dartmouth Castle and then Kingswear Castle equipping both with guns sufficient to repel enemy shipping. A chain could also be hoisted into position by Dartmouth Castle to physically block access up the River Dart. Even with these defences in place, the wealth of the town opted for a further fortification; Bayard's Cove Fort was built in the early sixteenth century - some suggest as early as 1509 - to provide protection against any vessel that had successfully broken through the Dartmouth Castle / Kingswear Castle line.
The new fort didn't see any action until the seventeenth century Civil War. Dartmouth originally supported Parliament but was captured in 1643 by Royalist forces under Prince Maurice. Bayard's Cove Fort - designed exclusively for protection against vessels sailing up River - was quickly taken. It saw no further action until 1646 when a night raid by Parliamentary forces stormed the town and took the fort capturing "five great Iron guns".
After the Civil War the relative wealth of Dartmouth declined significantly with Bayard's Cove Fort being allowed to drift into ruin. The neglect continued until the mid-nineteenth century when the town benefited from increases in the growth of tourism. The fort was briefly re-activated as a military structure in 1940 when it served as a machine gun post