Calshot Castle

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Calshot Castle
Calshot Spit, Fawley, Hampshire, England
Calshot castle evening.JPG
Calshot Castle
Calshot Castle is located in Hampshire
Calshot Castle
Calshot Castle
Coordinates 50°49′12″N 1°18′31″W / 50.82000°N 1.30861°W / 50.82000; -1.30861
Type Device Fort
Site information
Owner English Heritage
Site history
Built 1539 – 1540

Calshot Castle is one of Henry VIII's device forts, built on Calshot Spit at the Solent near Fawley to guard the entrance to Southampton Water (grid reference SU488025). Also known as a Henrician Castle, Calshot was built as part of Henry's chain of coastal defences to defend England's coast from foreign invasion especially during the turbulent times after his break from the Roman Catholic Church.

It was built as a circular blockhouse with a three storey central keep in 1540. It is now owned by English Heritage and visitors to the castle can park in the adjacent leisure centre car park.


Calshot Castle is built on a shingle spit known as Calshot Spit close to the deep water channel at the mouth of Southampton Water.[1] Its position is a commanding one, offering views up Southampton Water and across the Solent.[2]


Plan of the castle

Calshot Castle was built on the orders of Henry VIII as part of his chain of defences along the south coast of England.[1] It was part of the Solent defences along with East Cowes Castle, West Cowes Castle and Hurst Castle.[3] It was begun in 1539 and completed the following year.[4] It has similarities with Pendennis Castle with a circular keep surrounded by a low 16-sided curtain wall.[4] The castle was built, it is said, with stones from the ruins of Beaulieu Abbey.[2] The guns were mounted in the curtain, upper storey and roof of the tower.[3] Three additional guns were located on the gatehouse to serve as defence against attack along the spit.[4]

The castle was severely damaged by fire during the reign of Elizabeth I.[1] Its repair required 127 New Forest oak trees.[1] The arms of Queen Elizabeth, and the letters 'E.R.' on a waterspout (on the NNE side of the tower), bear witness to the repair on the castle.[2]

In late September 1651, Col. Robert Phelipps arranged passage for Charles II, then on the run after the Battle of Worcester, with a shipmaster from Southampton for transportation to France. The shipmaster was to pick up Charles at a point "between Southampton and Calshott castle," according to Phelipps's account. Unfortunately, a day or two before the appointed rendezvous, the Parliamentary forces engaged in the invasion of Jersey requistioned that very vessel. Charles and his supporters were forced to try again. Had the plan succeeded, Charles would have slipped out of England under the Castle's guns.[5]

For over 400 years the Castle remained a fully manned artillery base.[1] The curtain wall was lowered in the 18th century, perhaps to allow a better field of fire from the keep.[4] The gatehouse was rebuilt in order to provide more living space. The poet Caroline Anne Bowles (1786–1854) spent childhood summers at the castle when it was owned by a military uncle, Sir Harry Burrard.[6]

Three searchlights (Defence Electric Lights) were installed around 1896 and a coastal battery was built in 1902.[3] The castle became part of RAF Calshot in the First and Second World Wars.[3] RAF Calshot closed in 1961.[1]

Further reading[edit]

The first floor barracks at the castle
  • Fry, Plantagenet Somerset (1980). The David & Charles Book of Castles. David & Charles. ISBN 0-7153-7976-3
  • Goad, J. G. (1991). Calshot Castle, Hampshire. London: English Heritage (Second edition). ISBN 1-85074-183-2
  • Colvin, H.M. (ed) (1982). The History of the King's Works, Vol. IV, 1485–1600, Part II.
  • Harrington, Peter (2007). The castles of Henry VIII. Oxford: Osprey. ISBN 978-1-84603-130-4
  • Morley, B. M. (1976). Henry VIII and the development of coastal defence. London: H.M. Stationery Office. ISBN 0-11-670777-1

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Calshot Castle". Hantsweb. Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c "Parishes: Fawley". Victoria County History, 1908. Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d Historic England. "Calshot Castle (229790)". PastScape. Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c d Harrington, Peter (2013). The Castles of Henry VIII. Osprey. p. 24. ISBN 1472803809. 
  5. ^ A. M. Broadley, Royal Miracle, 1912, "Mr. Robert Phelipps' Narrative, p. 199.
  6. ^ ODNB entry: Retrieved 24 June 2012.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 50°49′12″N 1°18′31″W / 50.82000°N 1.30860°W / 50.82000; -1.30860