Four small blockhouses designed to protect areas around Plymouth Sound. Mount Edgecumbe is open for internal access, Devil’s Point is sealed and Fisher’s Nose and Firestone Bay are cafe/bars open to patrons.
1. Despite not receiving a Device Fort under Henry VIII, war with Spain during the reign of his daughter meant a partially State funded artillery fort would be built by Sir Francis Drake in the late sixteenth century (click here).
Mount Edgcumbe Blockhouse
Devil’s Point Blockhouse
Firestone Bay Blockhouse
Fisher’s Nose Blockhouse
Notes: Parking available at Devil’s Point / Firestone Bay. For Mount Edgcumbe see Garden Battery and for Fisher’s Nose see Royal Citadel.
As a major natural harbour home to prosperous trading communities, Plymouth Sound inevitably received additional protection during Henry VIII’s fortification of the south in the 1503s/40s. Although no new fort was built in his reign, six blockhouses were added to protect Sutton and Stonehouse harbours. Four still survive.
HISTORY OF TUDOR BLOCKHOUSES PLYMOUTH
As Henry VIII pursued his divorce and break from Rome, a Franco-Spanish invasion of Britain looked increasingly likely prompting a 'device by the King' for the protection of the realm. The result was a massive building programme most famously of masonry artillery forts such as Hurst Castle across the Southern England. Less famously this plan also included construction of earthwork defences and smaller blockhouses. Whilst Plymouth did not get a new fort in this extensive building programme, possibly because Plymouth Castle was already a fairly recent addition and had been built with coastal defence in mind, it did receive no less than six blockhouses; Mount Edgcumbe, Devil’s Point, Firestone Bay (Stonehouse), Millbay West, Millbay East and at the mouth of the Plym at Fisher's Nose.
Firestone Bay, Devil's Point and Mount Edgcumbe Blockhouses were built by the Edgcumbe family to ensure protection for their town of Stonehouse. The Millbay blockhouses were also built around the Tudor period although it is uncertain whether these were State funded or also built by the Edgecumbe family or other privately funded source. Finally the blockhouse at Fisher's Nose may have pre-dated the Tudor era and who funded it is unknown.
The blockhouses all had relatively short lives as artillery moved on and defences were position elsewhere. Fishers Nose blockhouse was modified in 1596 and incorporated into part of Drake's Fort before being consumed into the Royal Citadel. Firestone Bay blockhouse found itself superseded by Kings Point Batteries. The use of the Mount Edgcumbe blockhouse came to an abrupt end when the Garden Battery was built in front of it Devil's Point Blockhouse was used intermittently but had the longest service; in 1902 a machine gun nest was installed there.