Monday, 10 October 2011

Mote's Bulwark Gatehouse Ruins on the White Cliffs below Dover Castle, Kent, UK

Originally built by King Henry VIII in 1539, this is the inner wall of the Mote's Bulwark Gatehouse viewed from the Upper Terrace at 10.59 am on Tuesday, 12th of April, 2011:

The Mote, or Moat's Bulwark coastal artillery battery: semi-circular lower level/platform and upper level terrace with West Gatehouse or Guardroon. Built by King Henry VIII in 1539 below Norman Castle.
(Click this Mote's Bulwark text link to see the largest size)

In a posthumous account published in 1801 (1), the Welsh naturalist and antiquary Thomas Pennant describes how King Edward IV's expenditure of ten thousand pounds in improvements to Dover Castle led to a belief that no further defences were needed on the seaward side above the White Cliffs of Dover at East Cliff. Pennant then goes on to say:

King Henry VIII was of a different opinion; possibly to guard against a surprise by sea, he built at the foot of the cliff on the shore one of the many little castles he erected in the year 1539, it was called the Mote's Bulwark, and remains garrisoned.

(The "long s", or "f", has been replaced with the letter s for readability)

Originally Tudor, the "little castle" of Mote's Bulwark (alt. Moat's Bulwark) has been extensively modified over the years. The ruins now consist of a lower level semi-circular battery built of squared rubble with a revetted parapet (ie faced with masonry) at near sea-level, and an upper terrace set part-way up the cliff-side containing the West Gatehouse (or Guardroom) shown in the photo.

Visible through the arches of the gate house tower is the ivy-covered brickwork of the West Gateway itself, the only part of the bulwark that still has crenellations. These are the "up and down" bits shown, for example, in this photo of the Court's Folly, Dover's "Lost Castle", hidden on the Western Heights cliff-face on the other side of the River Dour valley.

The West Gateway is at a lower level than the West Gatehouse. Only the top of the curved arch that once framed the door in the gateway wall can be seen above a shadow-enshrouded piece of masonry that has fallen down on the far side of the gatehouse.

A road once ran down the side of the cliff from the other side of the West Gateway to sea-level.

The two terraces, levels, or platforms, of the coastal artillery fort are joined by a zig-zag, or switch-back, red-bricked stairway that will be shown in later photos (a link will be added here).

The Mote's Bulwark lies directly below the outer moat of Dover Castle's Western Outer Curtain Wall and above the A20 Townwall Street dual carraigeway at East Cliff.

The top of the gatehouse is just about visible near the right-hand edge of the MV Minerva Cruise Ship and 12th Century Dover Castle, Inner Harbour photo (above the beige-coloured Premier Inn).

Excerpt from "The Naval chronicle, Volume 6, July to December, 1801" (2):

The mote or bulwark was built by Henry the Eighth, 1539, it stands on the beach close under the cliff, beneath the southern end of the west wall, it was formerly called the mote-bulwark; it is difficult to conceive whence this name originated, as no mote ever was round it; although dependent on the castle it has its peculiar officers.

In Peck's Desideiata Curiosa, it is mentioned under the article of Queen Elizabeth's Expence Civil and Military, and one Captain Parker is styled Captain in 1584.

(Historical note: Desideiata Curiosa is the only known source for Richard of Eastwell (Richard Plantagenet) being a son of Richard III (2 October 1452 - 22 August 1485, reigned 1483 - 1485).

Geology (3): The White Cliffs of Dover are composed mainly of soft, white chalk with a very fine-grained texture, composed primarily of coccoliths, plates of calcium carbonate formed by coccolithophores, single-celled planktonic algae whose skeletal remains sank to the bottom of the ocean and, together with the remains of bottom-living creatures, formed sediments.

Flint and quartz are also found in the chalk.

White cliffs like those of Dover are also found on the Danish islands of Møn and Langeland or the coasts of the island of Rügen in Germany.

(1) "A Journey from London to the Isle of Wight: Volume I, London to Dover", by Thomas Pennant, Esquire. Printed at the Oriental Press by Wilson and Company for Edward Harding, No. 98 Pall Mall; and sold by West and Hughes, No. 40 Paternoster Row. London 1801.
(2) "The Naval chronicle, Volume 6, July to December, 1801", by James Stanier Clarke and Stephen Jones (published in 1801 by Bunnery and Gold of Shoe Lane, London).
(3) Excerpt from White Cliffs of Dover (abridged)

More information can be found on the photo's original webpage at:

Ruins of Mote's Bulwark Gatehouse on the White Cliffs below Dover Castle

To be uploaded:

The Mote's Bulwark Gatehouse Ruins on the White Cliffs below Dover Castle
The Mote's Bulwark of Henry VIII below the White Cliffs of Dover Castle
The Winchelsea Quarry Fire seen from Mote's Bulwark of Henry VIII, Dover

Nearby locations:

Sir Henry Le Geyt Bruce KCB, a Victorian Knight of 1 East Cliff, Dover
Rare view of Cliff Casemates Balcony, Secret Wartime Tunnels of Dover Castle
The Restored Admiralty Lookout and Port War Signal Station, Dover Castle

A Dover Artillery, British Army, Royal Artillery, Coastal Artillery, Henry VIII, History, and Ruins photo. The English Heritage "Pastscape" entry for Moat's Bulwark states:

A 16th century plan depicts it as a timber revetted platform approached by tunnels in the cliff, although it was remodelled as a large semi-circular battery in around 1750, and in 1856 linked with the castle by a spiral stairway tunnelled into the cliff (the Guildford Shaft).

All Mote's Bulwark photos first appear under the Mote's Bulwark, Castle, and Dover Castle category labels.

The 12th Century Norman castle is a Grade I Dover Listed Building and a Dover English Heritage site.

Clickable thumbnails of all Dover Castle-related photos on the main Panoramio Images of Dover website are available on this blog on the Dover Castle Page (also linked to below the blog title).

Also see the White Cliffs Country Page.

The Panoramio photos are each accompanied by a Google Earth satellite map. However, the images are smaller than those on the Images of Dover Blog and the captions are less well formatted.

John Latter / Jorolat

Dover Blog: The Psychology of a Small Town


Anonymous said...

Hi this article is great but do you know who owns this ? My guess is English Heritage as I heard that this was and is linked to the castle above. Do you know if this is correct? cheers

Jorolat said...

Thank you for your comment :)

The Mote's Bulwark is listed on the English Heritage "Pastscape" website at:

John Latter

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