Ref Number: 0031
Ref Number: 0031
It is believed that between 1543 and 1546, Henry VIII had a tiny castle (device fort) constructed on the Isle of Wight at Sandown Bay as part of England’s security strategy of the southern shoreline against any French invasion.
It was constructed here to protect the only southern harbour where a French fleet could dock and establish a strong beachhead because to the favourable topography.
In late 1544, construction began on Henry’s Castle, a plain square with two squares at its corners. On July 19, 1545, the French invaded the island while construction was still in the planning phases. While the Mary Rose fell in the ocean at Southsea, French invaders allegedly clashed with island defenders over the castle’s ruins and attacked many beachheads around the island’s southern coast.
The French were finally driven back to their ship after being attacked with superb and continuous attacks by different Island Militia troops commanded by Sir Richard Worlsey and Sir Edward Bellingham at the Battle of Bonchurch.
The castle was finished in the end; it followed the typical Tudor layout, with a gun platform facing the water and a rear building; however, it was constructed too close to the high tide sea mark, rendering it useless by the 1580s. The Crown incurred significant costs repairing the pier and landing stage in 1618 before abandoning the project altogether.
Over time, the water erased practically all traces of the ancient fortress, although legend has it that a mound of boulders may be seen at extremely low tide opposite Fort Street, the road that bears its name.
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.