Verne Citadel

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Built on the highest point of Portland, the Verne is surrounded by cliffs and a moat, with two entrances — one via a footbridge and one via this tunnel.

Verne Citadel is a Victorian citadel on the Isle of Portland, Dorset, England. Located on the highest point of Portland, Verne Hill, it sits in a commanding position overlooking Portland Harbour, which it was built to defend. The Verne stands 500 ft high. It later became HM Prison The Verne in 1949.

History[edit]

The citadel was built between 1857-81, as Portland Harbour's main defensive fortification.[1][2][3] Naturally inaccessible from the north and east, the south and west sides were protected with the digging of a large ditch.[4] The East Weare Battery below the eastern side of the Verne was considered part of the citadel's outworks.[5]

The moat

The citadel was designed with open gun emplacements on the north, east and west sides.[2] As its defensive role came to an end, by 1903 the citadel became an infantry barracks.[3] During World War I and II, the Verne became the Headquarters of Coast Artillery.[1] During World War II, a Chain Home Low Radar set was installed within the citadel, and the main magazine became a hospital.[6] After the war, the last military use of the fort was by the Royal Engineers.[2]

The citadel was turned into a prison in 1949, becoming a Category C prison for 575 adult males, serving medium-to-long term sentences.[2] In 2011, the prison service opened the public Jailhouse Cafe within the citadel, offering experience to prisoners of HM Prison Portland in attempts to reduce reoffending.[7] In 2013, the prison closed and became an immigration removal centre for 600 detainees awaiting deportation in 2014.[8]

Grade listed features[edit]

The battery at the southern entrance of the Verne

The citadel is a scheduled monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. This includes the Verne High Angle Battery too.[9] In recent years the Citadel has been listed on English Heritage's Risk Register.[10]

Both the North and South Entrances, as well as the south west and south east casemates, are Grade II* Listed.[11][12][13] The railings at the approach to the north entrance form part of the original construction at The Verne, and are Grade II Listed.[14] The prison's reception centre is also Grade II Listed. In September 1978, five features of the citadel became Grade II Listed, including the prison's blacksmith's shop,[15] the prison chapel,[16] the officer's block B,[17] the prison gymnasium,[18] and the detached Governor's house.[19]

The East Weare Battery, and the detention barracks of East Weare Camp (built circa 1880), both became Grade II Listed in May 1993.[20][21] The Verne High Angle Battery was built in 1892, approximately 150 metres south of the citadel's southern entrance, as part of Britain's Coastal Defences. Decommissioned in 1906, it became Grade II Listed in May 1993 too.[22]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b http://www.victorianforts.co.uk/pdf/datasheets/vernecitadel.pdf
  2. ^ a b c d Official information board situated outside Southern Entrance of Verne Citadel
  3. ^ a b Historic England. "Monument No. 451838". PastScape. Retrieved 28 September 2015. 
  4. ^ Super User. "The Jurassic Coast - The Verne". jurassicagent.co.uk. Retrieved 13 June 2015. 
  5. ^ http://www.victorianforts.co.uk/pdf/datasheets/eastweare.pdf
  6. ^ Historic England. "Monument No. 1478294". PastScape. Retrieved 28 September 2015. 
  7. ^ "About". Jailhouse Cafe. Retrieved 20 April 2014. 
  8. ^ Danny Shaw (4 September 2013). "BBC News - Prisons to close in England as super-prison site revealed". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 20 April 2014. 
  9. ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1002411)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 28 September 2015. 
  10. ^ "English Heritage | English Heritage". Risk.english-heritage.org.uk. Retrieved 20 April 2014. 
  11. ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1203116)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 20 April 2014. 
  12. ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1206120)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 20 April 2014. 
  13. ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1203117)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 20 April 2014. 
  14. ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1206113)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 20 April 2014. 
  15. ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1280366)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 20 April 2014. 
  16. ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1280372)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 20 April 2014. 
  17. ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1203118)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 20 April 2014. 
  18. ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1280377)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 20 April 2014. 
  19. ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1281832)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 20 April 2014. 
  20. ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1281863)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 28 September 2015. 
  21. ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1205814)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 28 September 2015. 
  22. ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1281857)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 28 September 2015. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 50°33′44″N 2°26′09″W / 50.5622°N 2.4357°W / 50.5622; -2.4357