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History Castles and Fortifications

Sandown Castle

REF NR: 30

As part of Henry VIII’s Henrican Castle or Device Port fortifications a small Castle at Sandown Bay Isle of Wight was thought to have been built between 1543 and 1546 forming part of England's defence scheme of the southern seaboard against any French invasion.

It had been built specifically at this location to defend the only bay on the southern side of the island where a French fleet could easily land and create a good beachhead due to the ideal topology available. 

Henry’s Castle's design was that of a simple square, with two squares in the corners, and was started in late 1544. Whilst still in the early preparations stages of the build the French invasion of the Island took place on the 19th July 1545. Across the water at Southsea the Mary Rose disaster occurred and she was sank, back on the Island the French invaders reportedly fought defenders over the foundations of the castle whilst also attacking several other beach fronts up and down the Island’s southern shore.

The  Battle of Bonchurch ensued and  eventually due to an excellent and sustained attacks upon them from various Island Militia forces commanded by Sir Richard Worlsey and Sir Edward Bellingham , the French were beaten back and eventually evacuated back to their fleet. 

Eventually the Castle was completed, it was of standard Tudor design with a gun platform towards the sea and a rear building ,however, it had been built too close to the high tide sea mark, and by the 1580s was unusable, further repairs at great expense for the pier and landing stage were undertaken by the Crown in 1618, but was finally eventually abandoned and the remaining useful stone eventually demolished and reused in 1631 at the new Sandham Fort built at  Yaverland as originally instigated by Sir John Oglander. 

As time went by nearly all the evidence of the original castle was eroded by the sea, however, it is said that some remains can sometimes be seen as a pile of rocks on a very low tide, opposite Fort Street, a road named after it.

Image: The photo is of proposed area just off Fort Street where at low tide and under certain conditions there are possible piles that may be associated with the castle.