History and Stories
Interior of Walmer Castle

Walmer Castle: History and Stories

Standing guard over the Kentish coast since Tudor times, Walmer Castle developed over the years from a coastal fort into an elegant seaside retreat for politicians, aristocrats and royalty. 

Discover the history of the castle, from the time of its construction to repel threats of invasion, to its role as the official residence of the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. Learn about some of the significant figures who have resided at Walmer over the years, and explore the collection of art and objects they left behind. 

Cannon pointing out to sea

Key Facts about Walmer Castle

  • Walmer Castle was built in 1539–40 by Henry VIII in response to threats of invasion from Europe.
  • The castle was part of a 2.7-mile coastal barrier that included Deal and Sandown castles.
  • During the English Civil Wars, Walmer came under siege from Parliamentarian forces.
  • Since the 18th century, Walmer has been the official residence of the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. 
  • The Cinque Ports are a series of major ports on the south-east coast of England. They are Sandwich, Dover, Hythe, New Romney and Hastings.
  • By the mid 18th century, the castle had become a well-equipped seaside retreat as well as a fort.
  • Notable Lords Warden include William Pitt the Younger, the Duke of Wellington, W H Smith and the Queen Mother.
  • The Duke of Wellington died at Walmer Castle in 1852.

Walmer’s History

  • History of Walmer Castle

    Read the full history of Walmer Castle, from its days as a Tudor fort, defending the coast from invasion, to its transformation into the elegant residence we see today. 

  • The Lords Warden of the Cinque Ports

    Walmer Castle is the official residence of the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports  – once a powerful role responsible for the defence of Kent and Sussex. Learn more about some of the most famous Lords Warden. 

  • Walmer Castle Collection Highlights

    Over the years, the Lords Warden have brought many significant objects, documents and artefacts to Walmer. Browse a selection, including a number relating to the Duke of Wellington.

     

The Gardens through time

A highlight of a visit to Walmer is the castle’s magnificent grounds. But how did a Tudor fort end up with over eight acres of gardens and woodland? Over the centuries successive Lords Warden have made their mark on Walmer’s landscape, creating the spectacular pleasure grounds that delight visitors today.

Read the full history of Walmer’s gardens

More Walmer stories

  • The Downfall of Lord Beauchamp

    As Lord Warden William Lygon, Lord Beauchamp, used Walmer Castle as a summer residence in the 1920s and 1930s. His homosexuality led to his fall from grace, and his family’s misfortunes inspired Evelyn Waugh’s novel Brideshead Revisited. 

  • The invention of the Wellington Boot

    How the Duke of Wellington, victor at the Battle of Waterloo and fashion icon, gave his name to the humble welly.

  • The Battle of the Downs

    How a major sea battle between the Dutch and the Spanish, in full view of Walmer Castle, revealed as much about the English navy as it did about its participants.

Visit Walmer Castle

  • Plan your visit

    Explore the elegant residence that was once a Tudor fort, with its majestic sea views and eight acres of magnificent gardens and woodland.

  • Things to see and do

    Explore the highlights of a visit to Walmer Castle, from the kitchen garden to the delicious treats in the Lord Warden’s Tea Room.

  • Spotlight on Walmer

    Discover why we love Walmer so much, what makes the castle so special, and some ideas for things to do during a visit to the area. 

  • Travel Guide: A weekend in Kent

    Home to some of the most impressive historic sites in the country, Kent offers award-winning beaches, seaside towns and the famous White Cliffs. 

  • Stay in the Garden Cottage

    The spacious two bedroomed Garden Cottage looks out onto the kitchen garden, which has supplied the castle with flowers, fruit and vegetables for almost three centuries.

  • Stay in the greenhouse apartment

    This roomy, first floor apartment overlooks Walmer’s kitchen garden and the castle’s magnificent cloud hedge.

  • Plan a school visit

    Discover famous figures such as the Duke of Wellington and William Pitt the Younger and learn more about local history in a fun and engaging way.

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