Thursday 30 May 2019

Another historical weekend away

I've been away on yet another short weekend trip, this time down to 'Hells Corner' in sunny Kent. We had to dodge a few showers but on the whole, the weather was pretty good and we had a great weekend. We have been taking full advantage of our English Heritage membership, re-visiting sites we haven't been to in several years. The weekend started with a relatively short trip over to Rochester and from there we travelled on to Dover Castle and the coastline of the Cinque Ports. 

The 12th Century keep of Rochester Castle

The internal floors are missing, but the walkways through the walls are still accessible.

The view from the top is stunning, especially when the sun is shining. This is the view across Rochester towards Chatham and the building in the foreground is Rochester Cathedral. 

Another view of the Castle, this time from outside the curtain wall. 
Then on Monday, we drove down to Dover for a WWII weekend inside arguably Britains most important castle. Dover castle had a special WWII themed event this weekend so we decided to make the relatively short trip down to the coast and stay overnight. This corner of Kent was literally on the front lines in the second world war, with German-occupied France clearly visible across the Channel. Dover itself was the target of many air raids and was even under direct shellfire from German railways guns and coastal batteries. Over 10000 properties in the city were damaged during the war with the loss of 216 civilians. 

One of many AA guns positioned around the site. This corner of Britain was known as Hells Corner as it was in the front line. Dover itself was bombed many times in both the first and second world wars and in WWII it was also inside the range of German railway guns in France. 

Admiral Ramsey, the mastermind of Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of Dunkirk. Ramsey initially estimated that he could save about 30,000 men of the British Expeditionary Force trapped in northern France, in the end, he was able to rescue over 330,000 British and allied soldiers. 

Another AA gun this time with shell cabinets and a mock crew. 

Smaller 25 pounders still had a maximum range of about 7.5 miles so could also be used to defend the harbour. 

The event had several reenactment groups present and some brought larger equipment for display, like this Dodge Carrier. 

Up on the battlements of the central keep at Dover, the highest point of the site. As with Rochester the view from up here is stunning. 

Looking West across Dover itself. The town was heavily damaged during the second world war. Less than 26 miles from the coast of France this part of England was on almost continuous invasion alert. 

Looking out towards France. The French coast can be seen very clearly when the weather is good and guns from both sides of the channel would exchange fire. 

One of two monuments on the hills overlooking Dover dedicated to aircrew and Artillery crew who served in the defence of the area. 

Part of the Chain Home radar station built in 1937 and operational the following year. They formed a vital part of the, the Dowding system, a ground-controlled interception network which collected and filtered this information on incoming air-raids.  
The next day we headed off to Walmer Castle, a 16th Century castle built by Henry VIII as part of the defence of the Cinque Ports. I wanted to come here as this was for a time the home of the Duke of Wellington until his death in 1852. There is an extensive collection of memorabilia related to his tenure, including his Death Mask and items relating to his funeral. Unfortunately, photography inside the building is not allowed. 

The entrance to Walmer Castle. 

Photography isn't really allowed but I managed to snap a cheeky picture with Old Nosey. 

The real value of Walmer Castle was its seaward facing guns which could protect a large area of sea known as the Downs Anchorage. 
I'm still feeling the after-effects of all the walking we did over the weekend but when the weather is good, Britain is a beautify place to holiday and take in some heritage.

1 comment:

  1. I'm always amazed by intact castles and I never knew about these, Caernarfon has been my best visit so far but I obviously need to venture out more!


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