West Tilbury Blockhouse, Tilbury Fort

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

There are no visible remains

NameWest Tilbury Blockhouse, Tilbury Fort
Alternative NamesThe Hermitage Bulwark; Thermitage Bullwark; Johne's Bulwark; Tylbery
Historic CountryEssex
Modern AuthorityThurrock
1974 AuthorityEssex
Civil ParishChadwell St Mary

Situated on low lying ground on the north bank of the River Thames, south east of the modern outskirts of Tilbury. The monument includes the buried remains of an Henrician, D shaped, blockhouse, the far larger and more complex fort and battery which succeeded the blockhouse in the late C17, the late C19 and early C20 alterations to the fort, and a World War II pillbox. The blockhouse was constructed in 1539 as part of Henry VIII's campaign to improve the coastal defences. West Tilbury Blockhouse was two-storeys high and D-shaped. The rounded side faced the river and was pierced with gun-ports to provide covering fire. After 1588, the building was encircled by a ditch and counterscarp bank. (Derived from PastScape)

Gatehouse Comments

Depicted on the 1588 Thamesis Descriptio map as a feature as a star shaped feature 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

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 ReferenceTQ650755
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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Calculate Print


  • Harrington, Peter, 2007, The Castles of Henry VIII (Oxford: Osprey) p. 8, 28, 38, 44, 56, 61
  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles of East Anglia (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 41
  • Saunders, Andrew, 1997, Channel Defences (London; Batsford/English Heritage) p. 45, 52, 78, 119
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 76 (slight)
  • Kent, Peter, 1988, Fortifications of East Anglia (Lavenham: Ternence Dalton)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 147
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 306-7
  • Sorrell, Alan, 1973, British Castles (London: Batsford) p. 78-80
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 1 p. 270-71 online copy
  • Timbs, J. and Gunn, A., 1872, Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales Vol. 1 (London) p. 241-3 online copy



  • Powell, W.R., 1988, 'The medieval hospitals at East Tilbury and West Tilbury and Henry VIII's forts' Essex Archaeology and History Vol. 19 p. 154-8
  • anon, 1979, 'Tilbury blockhouse and fort' Panorama Vol. 22 p. 57
  • Duncan, 1974-5, Essex Journal Vol. 9 p. 131-4
  • Smith, V.T.C., 1974, 'The Artillery Defences at Gravesend' Archaeologia Cantiana Vol. 89 p. 141-62 online copy
  • Saunders, A.D., 1960, Antiquiries Journal Vol. 40 p. 154
  • Burrows, 1933, Journal of the British Archaeological Association Vol. 38 p. 83-113

Guide Books

  • Miles, David, 2001, Tilbury Fort (London: English Heritage)
  • Saunders, A.D., 1985, Tilbury Fort Essex (London: English Heritage) p. 4, 21-2
  • Saunders, A.D., 1960, Tilbury Fort Essex (HMSO)

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 online copy