Plymouth Blockhouse, Firestone Bay

Has been described as a Certain Artillery Fort

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NamePlymouth Blockhouse, Firestone Bay
Alternative NamesWinter Villa; The Artillery Tower
Historic CountryDevonshire
Modern AuthorityPlymouth; City of
1974 AuthorityDevon
Civil ParishPlymouth

Blockhouse tower for coastal defence. 1537-39, remodelled in the C19. Stone rubble with some granite dressings; flat roof behind embattled parapet. Polygonal plan, extended to the north-west in the C19. 2 storeys; irregularly-disposed openings, some windows enlarged from former gun loops. Original openings include chamfered 2-centred arched doorway to landward side and some original gun loops including some to the centres of some of the merlons. (Listed Building Report)

Firestone Bay Artillery Tower is part of a system of coastal defence dating from the time Henry VIII 1537-9 and is the best preserved of the towers. It is a 7-sided embattled tower of stone rubble with embrasures, loopholes and an old doorway.

The artillery tower was probably built in the late 15th or early 16th century as a blockhouse as part of the Edgecumbe family's defences of the harbour. In 1540 it is depicted as a two-storeyed polygonal tower with gun embrasures on two floors. By 1857 it had become a coastguard watch-house. In 1891-6 it was converted to public conveniences, and was converted into a restaurant in the late 20th century. (PastScape)

Not scheduled

This is a Grade 2 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSX463535
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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  • Duffy, Michael, 1999, 'Coastal Defences and Garrisons 1480-1914' in Kain, R. and Ravenhill, W., Historical Atlas of South-West England (University of Exeter Press) p. 158-60
  • Salter, Mike, 1999, The Castles of Devon and Cornwall (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 76
  • Saunders, Andrew, 1997, Channel Defences (London; Batsford/English Heritage)
  • Pye, Andrew and Woodward, Freddy, 1996, The historic defences of Plymouth (Exeter: Exeter Archaeology Fortress Study Group South West) p. 123
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 118
  • Bracken, 1931, History of Plymouth (Plymouth) p. 68


  • Kenyon, J.R., 1981 'Early Artillery Fortifications in England and Wales: a Preliminary Survey and Re-appraisal' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 138 p. 218-19

Primary Sources