History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: 19th-century two-storey caponiers
Bembridge Fort was completed in 1867, at a total cost of almost £50,000. It was built to a hexagonal plan, with a central courtyard, ringed with barrack blocks, and stairs to an upper walkway with gun emplacements. Shafts run from the guns to munition chambers below.
The guns were removed from Bembridge in the 1890s and it served purely as a barracks and storage depot. It was used briefly in WWI, and by all three arms of the military in WWII.
Our family booked a guided tour of Bembridge Fort during a week on the island. It was an inspired choice; the fort, though obviously still being restored by a team of local volunteers, is fascinating. Our guide was a goldmine of information about the the history of the fort and how it was used. We were led through the underground tunnels that run within the walls, through the magazine storage area, and down a seep set of steps to a caponier, looking out into the moat. We carried on to emerge again at a salient overlooking the caponiers, and eventually climbed a stair to the walkway on top of the fort. This area is crammed with gun emplacements, signalling stations, and equipment installed over the course of a century in use by the military.
I was struck most by the eye-catching system of salient points and caponiers, defending the moat defenes. It would have taken a determined enemy to breach these defenses. Palmerston's political enemies may have mocked his forts, but this one of 'Palmerston's follies' is a very impressive example of Victorian military architecture. The location is superb, too, with wonderful views over the surrounding coast and countryside, From the walls you can make out the National Trust property of Bembridge Windmill, to the east.
About Bembridge Fort
Address: Culver Down Road, Bembridge Down, Bembridge, Isle of Wight, England, PO36 8QY
Attraction Type: Historic Building
Website: Bembridge Fort
National Trust - see also: National Trust memberships (official website link)
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest
Bembridge Windmill - 1.2 miles (Historic Building)
Morton Manor - 1.3 miles (Garden)
Brading Roman Villa - 1.3 miles (Roman Site)
Nunwell House and Gardens - 2.1 miles (Historic House)
Appley Tower - 4.4 miles (Historic Building)
The Shipwreck Centre & Maritime Museum - 5.5 miles (Museum)
Arreton, St George's Church - 5.6 miles (Historic Church)
Arreton Manor - 5.6 miles (Historic Building)
Nearest Accommodation to Bembridge Fort: