Dartmouth Castle
English HeritageDartmouth
Castle Road
Devon TQ6 0JN
 

Standing on the water’s edge, Dartmouth Castle guards the narrow entrance to the Dartmouth estuary.  It is stunningly positioned on a rocky promontory facing Kingswear Castle on the opposite shore.
 
The distance between the two forts is so narrow that a heavy chain used to be strung between the two castles to block ships from entering the estuary.  The interesting thing about the Dartmouth Castle is that it was built specifically as a heavy artillery coastal fort, and is the oldest surviving example in the country.
 
Dartmouth became wealthy and prosperous from the officially sanctioned practise of piracy, known as ‘Privateering’.
 
English Heritage Membership - Join here:    External Link

english heritage leader 468x60

 
First fort built in 1388
To protect the merchants’ homes and warehouses the first fort was built in 1388 under the direction of John Hawley, privateer mayor of Dartmouth.  This flamboyant man is believed to be the prototype Geoffrey Chaucer used for his ‘Shipman’ in The Canterbury Tales.
 
The castle comprises two linked towers – one round and one square – and sections of wall.  It is overshadowed by St Petroc’s Church, built almost on top of the castle.
 
The round tower is the oldest building in the coastal fort, built in the 14th century.  The square building was erected between 1481 and 1495.  During the 16th century additions, including open-air gun platforms, were made.  In the 19th century the castle housed no less than five huge 64-pounder cannons on traversing carriages.
 
19th Century 64-pounder guns
Currently the 19th century Gun Battery with its remounted 64-pounder heavy guns, guardrooms and maze of passages are the most substantial remaining parts of the castle. In the Castle’s Victorian ‘Old Gun Battery’ exhibition a dramatic film-sequence recreates a Victorian gun-firing.
 
The castle remained in use right up to the Second World War when it played a part in protecting the D-Day preparations being undertaken around Dartmouth.
 
Dartmouth Castle is in the care of English Heritage and open to the public.  It has interesting displays describing 600 years of history, spectacular views over the estuary and across to Kingswear Castle – Kingswear Castle is a Landmark Trust property providing  self-catering accommodation.
 
Plan your Visit
Accommodation - Search & Book through Tripadvisor here:    External Link
 
We suggest you leave an hour for your visit to Dartmouth Castle.
 
Opening Times
Open all year.
Summer:  Monday - Sunday            10:00 - 18:00
Winter:     Saturday & Sunday only  10:00 - 17:00
Closed:     24, 25, 26, 28 & 31 December and 1st January.
 
Last admission half an hour before closing. We suggest that you check EH website (link below) for any changes in opening hours.
 
Admission Costs
Free for EH Members.
Check EH website below for up to date admission prices for non EH members and concessions.
 
Disabled Access
Access is very restricted for wheelchair users due to the many slopes, spiral staircases and steps on the site. A companion is recommended. No wheelchair accessible toilets.

Access for wheelchair users to the castle is through areas outside English Heritage’s control. Comprehensive information available on EH website Web:  English Heritage/ Dartmouth Castle/ Disabled Access    External Link

Facilities
Toilets; Shop; Refreshments in car park; picnic tables
 
Contact & Further Information
Telephone   +44 (0)1803 833 588
Telephone   English Heritage/ Dartmouth Castle    External Link
 
Getting There
- By Car
Dartmouth Castle is about 1 mile (1.6 kms) South East of Dartmouth off B3205. The approach road is narrow.
 
- Parking
There is local authority run parking about 13 yards (12 metres) from entrance. Disabled visitors may be set down at gate.
 
- By Boat
By far the prettiest way to reach the castle is to take a boat trip on the Castle Ferry. Trips leave from the Quay on Dartmouth’s North Embankment, landing at Stumpy Steps just a couple of minutes walk from the castle. Web:  Dartmouth Castle Ferry    External Link
 
- By Bus
The Dartmouth Castle web site has bus service information  Web:  English Heritage/ Bus Access
 
Google Maps - Dartmouth Castle