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Deal Castle, Kent

Deal Castle, Kent

Cartographer: Unknown

Medium: Ink and tempera on parchment

Date: 1539

Shelfmark: Cotton Augustus I.i

Item number: f.67

Length: 52

Width: 52.5

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Plan

This is a plan of Deal Castle, the Tudor artillery fort dating from around 1539. One of a chain of castles along the south coast of England commission by Henry VIII to protect the Downs Anchorage and the ‘invasion coast’ Deal would have been an importance defence fortress. Fortification of large sections of coast was carried out at this time as Henry VIII feared an invasion from the combined forces of France and Spain. In 1538 Francis I of France, and Charles V Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain signed a peace treaty. This union gave rise to the possibility that France and Spain may combine forces to invade England. France was England’s historical enemy and Henry VIII’s divorce of Catherine of Aragon, Charles V’s aunt, had offended the militantly catholic King of Spain.
This plan dates from 1539, the year that a survey of the south coast was made in order to construct defence for the ‘invasion beaches’ and the newly completed dockyards at Portsmouth. When completed Deal Castle resembled, in plan form, the emblem of the Tudor Rose. Here rows of baskets called ‘maunds’ are shown placed along all the external walls of large. These were filled with earth, and were commonly used to protect members of the gun crew during battle.
It is likely that this drawing came from the drawing office of the Hampton Court team responsible for the construction of the castles in the Downs. The plan displays some domestic features and an ignorance of military matters. This can be explained by the fact that the team had previously worked on the royal palaces. Subsequent castle designs display a growth in understanding. Richard Benese was the surveyor, with William Clement and Christopher Dickenson working as master carpenter and master mason.
There is some variation between this plan and the castle that was built, the distance of the outer curtain from the central block, the projection of the outer bastions, the interior arrangement of the keep and the number and disposition of guns were all altered. The outer walls were also of a greater thickness when built, being 14 feet thick as opposed to 11 feet 6 inches shown here.

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