Gravesend Blockhouse

Has been described as a Certain Artillery Fort, and also as a Certain Chain Tower

There are masonry footings remains

NameGravesend Blockhouse
Alternative NamesCranes Bulwark; Le Grene
Historic CountryKent
Modern AuthorityKent
1974 AuthorityKent
Civil ParishGravesham

Gravesend Blockhouse, built in 1539, was situated on a "piece of land called Le Grene," to the north of the Terrace, at the west side of the Terrace Garden and Pier. It survived until 1834. Some brick walls of the blockhouse found during excavation 1973-4 are to be consolidated and made visible to the public in the riverside garden of the Berni Inn. A plan by John Romer, made in 1715, shows the full extent of the building; it had a curved front facing the river, with two angled faces on the landward side and a curved bastion on the W side. Gravesend Blockhouse was one of five built by Henry VIII on the Thames Estuary in 1539. In the 18th century, the blockhouse was converted into a magazine, and the building was demolished in the mid-19th century. The western two-thirds of the semi-circular front wall with its gunports is consolidated and displayed. The remainder of the site was under the car park to the E and road to the S. (PastScape)

Gatehouse Comments

Depicted on the 1588 Thamesis Descriptio map as a feature with 4 arrow shaped bastions and with a pier or boom into the river. No artillery pieces are portrayed for the fort itself although the 'pier' seems to be portrayed with several pieces. It may be the map is a plan of proposed rather than actual structures, the 'pier' features in particular seems a difficult and unlikely construction.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTQ649744
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  • Harrington, Peter, 2007, The Castles of Henry VIII (Oxford: Osprey) p. 8, 17-18, 28, 38, 42, 44, 60
  • Salter, Mike, 2000, The Castles of Kent (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 45
  • Smith, Victor and Green, Eric, 2000, Defending London's River 3 - The Gravesend Blockhouse (New Tavern Fort Project in association with Gravesham Leisure)
  • Saunders, Andrew, 1997, Channel Defences (London; Batsford/English Heritage) p. 49, 121
  • Kent, Peter, 1988, Fortifications of East Anglia (Lavenham: Ternence Dalton)
  • Saunders, A.D., 1985, Tilbury Fort Essex (London: English Heritage) p. 4
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 236
  • Colvin, H.M., Ransome, D.R. and Summerson, John, 1982, The history of the King's Works Vol. 4: 1485-1660 (part 2) (London) p. 602-3
  • Smithers, David Waldron, 1980, Castles in Kent (Chatham)
  • Bennett, D., 1977, A Handbook of Kent's defences from 1540 until 1945 p. 9
  • Newman, John, 1969, Buildings of England: West Kent and the Weald (Harmondsworth) p. 303
  • Cruden, R.P., 1843, The history of the town of Gravesend in the county of Kent, and of the port of London p. 161-3, 509-16 online copy
  • Hasted, Edward, 1797 (2edn), The history and topographical survey of the county of Kent Vol. 3 p. 319- (slight) 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. 250
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1909, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 4 p. 48, online copy


  • Cherry, J., 1978, 'Post-medieval Britain in 1977' Post-Medieval Archaeology Vol. 12 p. 109-10
  • Thompson, D. and Smith, V., 1977, 'The excavation of the Gravesend blockhouse, 1975-76' Archaeologia Cantiana Vol. 93 p. 153-77 online copy
  • Thompson, D.G., 1976, 'The Tudor blockhouse at the Clarendon Royal Hotel, Gravesend: interim report' Kent Archaeological review Vol. 45 p. 116-18 online copy
  • Smith, V.T.C., 1974, 'The Artillery Defences at Gravesend' Archaeologia Cantiana Vol. 89 p. 141-168 online copy
  • Crookshank, A.A., 1965, Royal Engineers Journal Vol. 23 p. 207-16

Primary Sources

  • Thamesis Descriptio Anno 1588 online copy
  • Gairdner, J. and Brodie, R.H. (eds), 1896, Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII Vol. 15 p. 131 no. 323, 324 online copy


  • Kent County Council, December 2004, Kent Historic Towns Survey (Kent County Council and English Heritage) view online copy
  • Saunders, A. and Smith, V., 2001, Kent's Defence Heritage Gazetteer (Kent County Council) Part 1: KD128