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KING CHARLES CASTLE

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King Charles' Castle is an artillery castle built between 1548 and 1554, situated on the highest point on the west side of Castle Down overlooking New Grimsby Harbour, Tresco. The castle was part of a series of fortifications built on the Isles of Scilly between 1548 and 1554 in response to a threat from the French. King Charles' Castle was built to command the northern entrance to the harbour. The castle is cruciform in plan with the hall and kitchen forming the eastern half, from which the accommodation chambers project to the north and south, and with a semi-hexagonal gun platform extending to the west. The castle was possibly of two storeys originally but the walls now only rise up to 3.4 metres high. A guardroom was attached to the east wall, the main entrance to the castle. The ground-floor gun platform of semi-hexagonal plan originally consisted of 5 gun ports. Despite early prominence, the castle was superseded as the islands' chief stronghold by the building of the Star Castle on St Mary's, 1593-1594.

An earthen artillery defence was added to the north and east of the artillery castle at some time, possibly in the early 17th century. It is a rectangular earthwork with bastions, consisting of a bank up to 1.3 metres in height externally and an outer ditch 0.2 metres deep on the north and east sides. The south-west corner is protected by a steep face of natural rock outcrop. The defence was designed to protect the castle from landward attack. The Royalists are believed to have blown up part of the castle when they abandoned it in 1651 and much of the stone was allegedly used to build a blockhouse, known as Cromwell's Castle, in 1651-2. The castle was partially excavated in 1954, which uncovered pottery, a 16th or 17th century bronze buckle and two coins of Henry VIII and Edward VI.

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Further information about monuments may be obtained by contacting Archive Services, through the Historic England website.