Yarmouth Castle: guidebooks


2003 [1978]

Yarmouth Castle on the Isle of Wight was one of a series of defences for the Solent. It was constructed after a  French raid of 1545 during the reign of Henry VIII, and was nearly complete by the autumn of 1547. The castle continued to be used for coastal defence until 1885. The castle was placed in the care of the Office of Works in 1913.


1958 (repr. 1962)

S.E. Rigold wrote the first paper guide for the castle in 1958. It consisted of a detailed history (nearly five and a half pages) followed by a description. The centre page consists of a site plan along with plans of the ground, first and second floors. The price (in 1962) was 4d.


1985 (repr. 1987, 1990)

Rigold’s guide was reprinted in 1978, and formed the basis of the English Heritage ‘white’ guidebook (1985). This started wit ha description followed by the history.  It is illustrated with black and white photographs, and the centre pages use the 1958 plans though with updated typography. The text is also identical to the 1958 guide with the addition, ‘Since 1984 Yarmouth Castle has been in the care of English Heritage’.

The back cover of this guide bears the Gateway marketing.


1985 (repr. 1987, 1990)

The present English Heritage guidebook is essentially the same as the 1985 publication except with a colour cover (most recently reprinted in 2012).

Walmer Castle: Building Inscription


Walmer Castle © David Gill

An inscription marking the completion of Walmer Castle in 1540 can be found at the outer edge of the west entrance to the castle. This was in response to the threat of  invasion that had been expected in 1539. Note that this part of the fortifications were rebuilt in 1661.

Henry VIII and the Development of Coastal Defence



The standard ‘Blue Guides’ (e.g. Corbridge) for the Ministry of Works and the Department of the Environment were supplemented by some landscape volumes such as the ones to the Saxon Shore forts (and see also here). At the same time there were some general guides to the regions or specific monuments. This illustrated guide by B.M. Morley, Inspector of Ancient Monuments, was on Henry VIII and the Development of Coastal Defence  (London: HMSO / Department of the Environment, Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings, 1976) [Cost, 60p]. There are six sections:

  1. Historical
  2. The Fortifications
  3. The 1539/40 Castles
  4. Gunpower
  5. The Development of Coastal Defence
  6. Open to the Public

A number of fortifications built by Henry VIII are now in the care of English Heritage and feature in the text:

The guide takes a broader view of coastal defence including the Late Roman Saxon Shore (at Portchester Castle) and Elizabethan defences at Carisbrooke Castle and Berwick-upon-Tweed.