01 August 2017

Henry VIII's Deal Castle opens new permanent exhibition

The exhibition will also tell the stories of those who lived and worked at the castle up until the 20th century
Henry VIII reenactor outside the entrance to Deal Castle

A new permanent exhibition at Deal Castle in Kent will offer new insights into the history of the fort.

Although focusing on its links to Henry VIII, the exhibition will also detail the stories of those who lived and worked at Deal Castle for more than 400 years. It will feature displays, audio, activities and contemporary artefacts, showcasing the rich and varied history of the artillery fort.

The exhibition will open on 2 August.

Two boys listen to audio at the new Deal Castle exhibition

Henry VIII's fears for national security

Deal Castle was built by Henry VIII for use as a coastal fort to defend the country from invasion in 1539. This exhibition will reveal how the king feared for the safety and security of his realm and how this impacted the development of the castle.

The story of Henry's fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, will also be highlighted. Anne arrived at Deal Castle on her way from Germany to meet her new husband for the first time. In bringing this chapter to life, visitors will hear audio of the views of England by Henry, Anne and his adversaries during 1539.

A curator touches up the restored stained glass window at Deal Castle

What else can you see at Deal Castle?

The new offering is not all about Deal Castle's historical Henry VIII links.

The breech chamber from a late 16th century gun and a copper powder flask lid with intricate horse decoration from the 17th century are among the exclusive artefacts on display.

Visitors will be transported back to the 17th century in the castle's tunnel, the Rounds. Here listen to sounds of imagined conversations between Civil War soldiers during the siege of 1648 as though it's happening today.

For a glimpse into the 20th century, visitors can see a restored chapel that was built within Deal Castle by General Sir John French, 1st Earl of Ypres. French, who was also Captain of Deal Castle, commanded the British Expeditionary Force in 1914-15 and built the chapel in the 1920s.

A reenactor dressed as Henry VIII outside Deal Castle

Historical Deal Castle

Deal Castle was the largest of a chain of forts commissioned by Henry VIII along the east coast.

Along with six other forts, Walmer and Sandown and four earth-and-timber forts, it was designed to protect ships anchored in the stretch of water known as the Downs. Its main purpose was to prevent enemy troops landing on local beaches.

Deal Castle took more than 1400 workmen to build. These men used limestone from the ruins of the nearby monastic houses, stone quarried from Folkestone, local chalk and cobbles from the beach.

Some of Henry VIII's other coastal castles include Pendennis, St Mawes, Portland and Hurst.

Take a walking guide in Kent and discover castles in Dover, Deal and Walmer.

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