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The Bulwark on Marsh Stone

The Bulwark on Marsh Stone

Cartographer: Unknown

Medium: Ink on vellum

Date: 1540

Shelfmark: Cotton Augustus I.i

Item number: f.68

Map scale ratio: 1 '' : 17 Feet

This is a plan of a defence structure in Harwich in the 1540’s. At this time Harwich was a port of some consequence. The threat posed to England by the combined enemy forces of France and Spain after Francis I of France, and Charles V Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain signed a peace treaty in 1538, led to a program of coastal defence. In 1539 the townspeople, with government encouragement, were in the process of strengthening the medieval town walls with trenches and earthen bulwarks. A visit by the king in the summer of 1543 was followed by a decision to fortify Harwich further. Three bulwarks were built at Harwich, like the others in Essex they were not permanent structures of stone but were described by Edward VI in his journal as ‘bulwarks of earth and board’. The plan shows that these structures were symmetrical moated enclosures with earthen ramparts supplemented by rows of large round baskets filled with earth known as ‘maunds’ which, in the 16th century warfare ere used to protect gun crews in the field. Here cannons are shown between the baskets. Richard Lee and Richard Cawarden, the Dean of Chichester together received a total of £1300 from the Court of Augmentations for works variously described as ‘the king’s fortresses at harwich’ ‘fortifications at Harwich and St. Osyth’s’ and ‘the waterworks at harwich’. Lee and Cawarden were to also work on the major works at Portsmouth. Lee was employed as surveyor and Carwarden was most likely to have been the paymaster.
Each bulwark had a captain, a lieutenant, a porter, 2 soldiers and 3, 4 or 6 gunners. In October 1552 it was decided that the garrisons should be discontinued for the sake of economy.
Here a five room plan in the centre of the seven sided structure showing what appear to be living quarters. The plan features a perspective rendering of the bridge over the moat which has four arches.

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