Ref Number: 00420
Ref Number: 00420
During the time of King Henry VIII, four castles were built on the Isle of Wight in an effort to defend it against invasion. Built between the years 1530 and 1540, these fortifications included Yarmouth Castle, Cowes Castle, East Cowes Castle, and Sandown Castle. Henry had them built at the island’s main ports in preparation for a possible French invasion. This apprehension was well founded; in 1545, the Mary Rose was destroyed in the same fight that saw a full French invasion of the island.
It was originally speculated that Henry VIII’s use of stone from the abbeys at Quarr and Beaulieu in the construction of two forts or “cowe castles” near the entrance to the Medina River is whence the name “Cowes” originated. John Leland wrote in 1545: ‘The two Great Cows that in loud thunder roar, This on the eastern that on the western shore.’ Using stone from Quarr and Beaulieu abbeys, Henry’s Master Mason.
The moniker Old Castle Point and a racing mark are all that are left of Henry VIII’s fort on the eastern side of the Medina. The Royal Yacht Squadron (West Cowe Fort) was updated using stones salvaged from the destruction.It is often thought that Norris Castle’s historic bathhouse, located at the end of the esplanade, is actually the fort.
The fort’s precise site is unknown, although it was likely built on erodible, eroding sands because of its proximity to the ocean. Part of the ancient castle wall may still survive near the intersection of Columbine plant and the new supermarket. Stone by stone, the villagers are said to have stolen the building’s materials after it was abandoned.
The castle’s precise whereabouts remain unknown. The area around the East Cowes parade, namely at the intersection of Maresfield and Colombine roads, is a likely candidate.