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Spotlight on Walmer Castle

Looking out across the English channel from one of the country's most beautiful coastlines, Walmer Castle was built under instruction of Henry VIII. The castle is the residence of the Lords Warden of the Cinque Ports, a position held by famous figures from the Duke of Wellington to Sir Winston Churchill, and is set among magnificent formal gardens.

Take a Closer Look: The First Wellies

In the early 1800s in St James's Street, London, a shoemaker was asked by the then Viscount Wellington to produce a pair of boots in a new style that would be easier to wear with trousers. After his victory over Napoleon Bonaparte at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, Wellington's boots became a must-have item in London and beyond. The pair on display at Walmer Castle belonged to the duke himself, and are made from soft calfskin with spurs on the heels.

What Makes Walmer Castle Special?

Walmer Castle's status as one of England's finest Tudor artillery forts makes it a truly special part of the nation's story. Walmer, and its neighbouring sister Deal Castle, were built to protect the Downs, a sheltered area of water between the shore and the Goodwin Sands.

The short, squat structure of the castle made it a difficult target to strike from the sea, while the curved walls of its four 'clover leaf' bastions were designed to deflect gunfire away from the central keep.

What really makes Walmer unique, however, is its status as the official home of the Lords Warden of the Cinque Ports. This now ceremonial position was once named Keeper of the Coast, and has been held by the Duke of Wellington, William Pitt, Sir Winston Churchill, WH Smith and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

More about Walmer's History

Then and now

Above: The view along the Yew Walk around 1921 and today. The gap in the trees above the Apollo statue was known as the 'keyhole'. 

Historical photograph © Historic England Archive

Three things to look out for

  • The Wellington Room: The Duke of Wellington spent a total of 23 years at Walmer Castle, and his private room has been carefully conserved to show how the room would have looked during his residence. You can see the duke's campaign bed, as well as the armchair in which he died.
  • The Kitchen Garden: This culinary garden has been growing produce for the castle for nearly 300 years, and its fruit and vegetables are still used in the tearoom today. The adjacent greenhouses contain more unusual and tropical flowers. Salty air blows in to Walmer from the sea, yet the gardens are sheltered by the gardens walls, resulting in a horticultural haven where plants flourish.
  • The Woodland Walk: Behind the formal gardens, marked paths lead into an area of shady woodland, where you can explore among the castle's most mature trees. Here the seasons bring change in colour, with beds of red leaves in the autumn and scatterings of white snowdrops in the spring.

Walking Guide: Dover to Deal Via Walmer

Visit two other mighty coastal fortresses on the south east coast with our guided hike from Dover to Deal. The walk also takes in the landing place of the first cross-channel flight and the Dover Patrol Memorial, as well as spectacular scenery along the white cliffs of Dover.

Find out more

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