Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Unusual view of Saxon Church, Roman Pharos in Dover Castle, UK

"Unusual" in that the photo is a zoomed shot from some 800 yards away, not far from the edge of the White Cliffs of Dover (see map below), and also because there isn't anything similar in Google Images.

The Roman lighthouse is located behind the church on the right. Both structures are Grade I Listed Buildings, as is Dover Castle itself:


View from 800 yards of 10th century Saxon church, restored twice by the Victorians. Also called King Lucius church. Roman Pharos built AD 46 during  Emperor Claudius' reign. Church and lighthouse built on Bronze Age mound. A coronavirus, covid-19 lockdown bike ride.


Dover Castle is owned by English Heritage and is a scheduled Ancient Monument.

1) The church of St Mary-in-Castro [Note 1]

The latest possible date for the foundation of the church is circa 1020AD.

The exterior is of 2 storeys flint with some reused Roman brick window dressings and some modern ashlar dressings. Modern tiled roof and restored tower.

The Church was roofless and used as a coalstore in the 18th century but was restored for use as a garrison church to the Castle by Sir Gilbert Scott in 1862.

The interior contains a Chancel arch of Roman brick, a blocked Saxon doorway and the site of a Military or soldiers altar of A.D. 1225.

There is a Victorian wooden roof and stained glass windows. Mosaics by Butterfield 1888.


Pharos lighthouse built 46 AD, Emperor Claudius, Aulus Plautius governor. Bredenstone: Western Heights. Once St Mary-in-Castro belfry, King Lucius Church. Restored: Gilbert Scott, William Butterfield. Garrison School. Officers New Barracks or Officers Mess. Fire Beacon, English Channel.
Garrison school in foreground; Officers New Quarters, Fire Beacon, and English Channel beyond (2011).

2) The Roman Pharos (lighthouse) [Note 2]

Built in AD 46 under the Emperor Claudius.

This guided the Roman fleet round to the port of Richborough.

In mediaeval (alt. medieval) times it was used as a belfry to the Church of St Mary Sub-Castro.

4 stories, 3 being Roman and the top storey and remains of battlements mediaeval.

An octagonal tower with originally vertical stepped walls rising in tiers set back each within the last, now almost smoothed.

Rubble with a facing of green sandstone and tufa and levelled at an interval of 7 courses with a double course of brick set in hard pink mortar.

Round-headed windows with a small recessed spy-hole inside them.

The location the first photo was taken from is marked "P3" on the cycling route map of 1st April 2020:


 Bike ride route map for 1st April, 2020. 6 Robsons Yard (Tower Hamlets) to Dover Castle and then the White Cliffs of Dover above the Eastern Docks. Then on to the "Ornamental Boat" at St Margaret's-at-Cliffe that commemorates the 2012 London Olympic Games. Returned via same roads.


Start and end point of cycle ride is the green dot below the "S" near bottom left.

Original map and biometrics at Polar Flow

Abbreviated versions of this post are also on Facebook and Twitter.

More information on this ancient monument: Dover Castle at English Heritage

Permitted cycle ride under the Coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown rules.   

[Note 1] Abridged from St Mary Sub-Castro

[Note 2] Abridged from The Roman Pharos

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