Post Sun May 12, 2013 10:32 pm

The Building of a Fort at Sandown Isle of Wight 1632-1636


List of abbreviations used:
    Dartmouth MS. - General survey of the state of Thisle of Wight . . . December, 1559, among the manuscripts of the Earl of Dartmouth in the William Salt Library, Stafford.
    BM - British Museum.
    L & P - Letters and Papers of Henry VIII.
    APO - Acts of the Privy Council.
    PRO - Public Record Ofiice.
    CCM, Og. - Bound volumes, in Carisbrooke Castle Museum (Accession No. 11, 1965) of photostat copies of the Oglander notebooks, the originals of which are at Nunwell House, Brading.
    SFAB - Bound volume of complete weekly accounts for building Sandown Fort; in IWCRO.
    IWCRO - Isle of Wight County Record Office.
    CCM,Venables - Interleaved copy, with author’s manuscript notes, of Edmund Venables: Guide to the Isle of Wight (1860), in Carisbrooke Castle Museum (Accession No.S.28)

In the case of printed works cited, the place of publication is London unless otherwise stated.

Introduction: The building and decay of the first fort at Sandown

The first fort to be built at Sandown Bay formed part of Henry VIII’s programme of coastal fortification, begun in the late 1530s. A plan of it is among the Dartmouth papers in the William Salt Library, Stafford(1) and there is a rough sketch of it in the “Cowdray engraving” showing the French attack on the Solent in 1545. Although the site of this fort is shown on 16th century manuscript maps of the Isle of Wight(2), these surveys in themselves are not exact enough to place the fort accurately.
One writer in 1911(3) did claim that the masonry foundations could still be detected from a boat at exceptionally low tides, just opposite the coastguard building; this, along with the evidence of the early maps, suggests a modern grid reference of SZ 604843,.
The date at which work began on the fort is not known. Building was certainly in progress at the time of Claude d’Annebault’s attack on the Isle of Wight in 1545, the surveyor of works being William Ridgway(4) and the captain of the labourers John Portinary(5). A return of the musters for the Isle of Wight on 31st July, 1545, showed 1716 inhabitants

    (1) - Dartmouth MS., f.6 (see fig. 1)
    (2) - E.g; BM, 18.D.III., f.18; and Aug.I.i.28
    (3) - E. de Boulayz Bembridge past and present (Ryde, 1911)
    (4) - L 8c P 20(1), 1275
    (5) - Ibid., 1329

and labourers at Sandown Bay. The fort was evidently substantially complete at this time, for on 23rd July a warning Was given by the Privy Council that the French Were planning a night attack on it;(1) but as late as 18th August a Warrant for £600 was issued for the fortifications at Sandown Bay(2). A payment on 15th April, 1546, for the “stockinge whelinge and trenninge of certeine ordinaunce in the yle of Wighte”(3) suggests the final stages in the equipping of the fort. The design of the fortification (fig. 1) shows an interesting transition between the traditional thinking of engineers like Stefan V011 Haschenperg(4) and “the more

Fig. 1
sfort.jpg (18.81 KiB) Viewed 2064 times

    Fig. 1. The first fort at Sandown, built by Henry VIII in the 1540s. Plan based on an original manuscript of 1559 belonging to the Earl of Dartmouth. Orientation, not shown on the original, is only approximate.

    (1) - APO (1545) £811
    (2) - Ibid. f.110
    (3) - PRO E.315I254-
    (4) - B. H. St.J. O’Nei1: Stefan von Haschenperg, an Engineer to King Henry VIII, and his work, in Archaeologia 91 (1945), 137-155

advanced Italian technique of the angled bastion; for the southern, seaward side of this fort had a medial, semi-circular bastion, while the north-east corner of the fort had an angled bastion, possibly the earliest of its kind to be built in England(1) In this respect it is significant that the Italian Portinary or Portinaris was involved in its construction, and it seems likely that he was the Giovanni Portinari who in the 1560s collaborated with Richard Lee in constructing the bastioned enceinte at Berwick(2).
The military establishment of this first fort was quite modest. One list, dated “in the reign of Henry VIII”(3), mentions a captain, deputy captain, master gunner, and seven gunners; and a list of munitions dated 14th September, 1547, mentions one demi-culverin, one saker, and one falcon, all of brass; one iron port piece, and seven iron slings(4). By 1551 the captain was Richard Coke. The local diarist, Sir John Oglander, writing in the early 1600s, described how Coke “came alwayes to Arreton Church in his wrought velvet Gowne and 12 of his souldiors with hole-bardes wayghted upon him”(5). As captain, Coke was paid four shillings a day(6) but in fact he combined with this office the Vice-Admiralty of the Isle of Wight.(7). On his death in September, 1558(8) he was succeeded by Morgan J ones(9). According to Sir Francis Knollys’s survey of the Island, completed in December, 1559(10), Sandown had a captain, deputy captain, master gunner, six gunners, fourteen soldiers, and a porter; and the ordnance showed an increase on the 1547 list, of one iron culverin. “The said castell,” Knollys reported, “standeth to beate a bay, where the landing place is large, but neither haven nor Creke, and the building ys of greater quantitie then nedes.” The fort itself, though only some twenty years old, needed repair: “for now a man may clyme upon Tree pyles into the Loops of the great ordynance in the Lower platform. The dytche is so shallowe, without countermuringe, the buildinge also decayth in sundry places, where the wall is not copte . . . . To make yt stronge yn this fourme, yt wilbe costly and the reparacions chargeable, yf the mayne tower were taken downe and the dytch made deap and countermured, yt wolde be muche stronger then yt is, and the reparacions thereof afterwardes not greate, bycause the platforme ys massy, and the lead yron and tymber of the maynetower will beare a grete pte of the charge of the rest”. This advice was not followed. A plan of the fort in James I’s reign“ shows the main tower still in position. By 8th

    (1) - A more developed arrowhead bastion, with recessed fiankers in the Italian style, was used at Yarmouth Castle soon afterwards; see S. E. Rigold: Yarmouth Castle
    Isle of Wight (HMSO, 1958)
    (2) - Iain Maclvorz The Elizabethan fortifications of Berwick-upon- Tweed, in Antiquaries’ Journal, 45 (1965), 64-96
    (3) - R. Worsleyz History of the Isle of Wight (1781), app. xxxvi
    (4) - Ibid., app. xxxvm. In relation to the brass falcon, a similar gun of this period is in Carisbrooke Castle Museum; it was cast in 1549 by Robert and John Owen for the parish of Carisbrooke. The falcon was a small type of oulverin firing shot of about three pounds. A slightly smaller gun by Robert and John Owen is also to be found at Nunwell House.
    (5) - COM, Og., 305
    (6) - Worsley, op. cit., app. xxxvi
    (7) - APO, m Edward VI, £190
    (8) - PRO, SP. 11/13/65
    (9) - Dartmouth MS., f.6v
    (10) - Ibid.
    (11) - PRO, SP.14/190/7

Source - The Isle of Wight Natural and Archaeological Society, Proceedings 1968, Vol VI, Part III, December 1969