As a result, visitors may see some scaffolding in the ditches but the medieval tunnels will remain fully open and visible. This conservation work is necessary to halt collapse of some of the unstable brickwork and to ensure that this unique part of Dover Castle remains in good order and can be enjoyed and studied by generations of visitors to come.”
This part of the castle has been heavily fortified since the early 13th century when Henry III’s engineers created a series of outworks which combined earthen defences with masonry towers and underground passages. These were designed to allow the garrison to defend a part of the castle that had proven vulnerable in a siege of 1216, with the underground passages allowing the defending soldiers covered access to the castle’s ditches and perimeter defences. The medieval tunnels visitors explore today formed part of this arrangement.
During the Napoleonic War the defences were further improved by the construction of the passages known as caponiers, which were designed to provide flanking fire along the ditches around the Spur. At the heart of the Spur the medieval tunnels were re-used and formed part of a route allowing soldiers inside the castle protected access to a raised gun platform and to the ditches beyond. A system of internal defences was designed to impede the progress of any attacking forces who attempted to make their way into the Spur.
The repairs are being carried out on two of the caponiers by David Ball Restoration (DBR London Ltd), which is experienced in the repair of historic brickwork. Some eight different types of coloured brick had to be sourced to match the existing ones for the repair works. Scaffolding will first be erected on the west caponier and will be gradually built up to include the main and then east caponier. The works are expected to take 13 weeks.
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