Plymouth Blockhouse and Harbour Chain

Has been described as a Certain Chain Tower

There are no visible remains

NamePlymouth Blockhouse and Harbour Chain
Alternative Names
Historic CountryDevonshire
Modern AuthorityPlymouth; City of
1974 AuthorityDevon
Civil ParishPlymouth

There was a blockhouse on the harbour chain opposite the castle, according to Leland. (PastScape ref. King 1983)

"On the south-west side of the entrance is a blockhouse, and next to it on a rocky hill is a strong square castle castle with a large round tower at each corner. It does not appear to be very old." (Chandler)

The mouth of the gulph wherin the shippes of Plymmouth lyith is waullid on eche side and chainid over in tyme of necessite. On the south west side of this mouth is a blok house: and on a rokky hille hard by it is a strong castel quadrate having a eche corner a great rounde tower. It semith to be no very old peace of worke. (Toulmin Smith)

Gatehouse Comments

The castle is Quadrant castle. This blockhouse was clearly the tower with the chain works. PastScape place this at SX485533 (Mount Battern Point). However, it seems clear that the Blockhouse with the chain works was adjacent to (not opposite) Castle Quadrant. The wharf enclosed by the chain was probably only Sutton Harbour with the chain crossing to Coxside, where West Pier and the marine lock are now, rather than Mount Batten Point. This would make the protected area very much smaller than that seemingly imagined by King and, given the walls mentioned by Leland may represent a precursor to the West Pier the chain could have been little more than 50m in length rather than the 400m suggested by the PastScape record. This is, in fact, clearly shown on the chart of 1540.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSX483539
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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Calculate Print


  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 120
  • Lysons, D. and S., 1822, Magna Britannia Vol. 6 Devon p. 398-9 online transcription


  • Camden, Wm, 1607, Britannia hypertext critical edition by Dana F. Sutton (2004)
  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 110
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1907, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 1 p. 214 online copy

Primary Sources