Built on the west bank of the River Medway to protect shipping on the river and the approaches to Chatham Dockyard. The castle is a rare example of an Elizabethan artillery fort, work was begun in 1559 and redeveloped between 1599-1601, to protect warships moored at Chatham dockyards. Despite a brave attempt, it entirely failed to do so in 1667, when the Dutch sailed past it to burn or capture the English fleet at anchor.
During the English Civil War the fort was used as a prison by the Parliamentarians. In 1668 it was converted to a gun powder store. It continued in service with the war office and the Admiralty until 1945. It is now managed by English Heritage.
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