Polruan Blockhouse

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

There are major building remains

NamePolruan Blockhouse
Alternative NamesPolruan Castle
Historic CountryCornwall
Modern AuthorityCornwall
1974 AuthorityCornwall
Civil ParishLanteglos

A chain tower known as Polruan Blockhouse on the south coast of mid-Cornwall. The chain tower survives as a two storied rectangular building constructed on a low rocky promontory which juts out into the River Fowey, and is located opposite another chain tower known as Fowey Blockhouse The structure is roofless and is constructed of the local slate stone with moulded granite surrounds to some windows, gun ports and the main entrance. The chain tower was probably built in response to a raid on the town of Fowey by the French in 1457. Leland, travelling in the 16th century, states that the towers were built during the reign of Edward IV (1461-1483). Polruan Blockhouse was also equipped for use with guns, there being 2 gunports. The two chain towers were designed to have a chain laid across the river between them which could be raised to prevent enemy shipping reaching the town of Fowey. Advances in artillery made the tower obselete and it was superseded by St Catherine's Castle in the 1520s, on the opposite side of the river. The tower was reused during the Civil War. In 1644 the Parliamentarians were being forced to retreat down the Fowey peninsula and were hoping to escape from Fowey by ship, however the Royalists seized and held Polruan Blockhouse, so giving them control over shipping entering or leaving Fowey. (PastScape)

Blockhouse, now maintained ruin, erected circa 1540 and last used in 1666. One of Henry VIII's forts erected to guard the entrance to Fowey River and was linked by a large chain with a similar blockhouse on the Fowey side. Rubble stone with ashlar dressings. Floors and roof now gone. Square in plan. 3 storeys. Entrance on south-east near centre. Chamfered round-headed arch. Small rectangular loop embrasure to the right and 3 above. Oversailing parapet remains on south corner

Small rectangular embrasures on other faces with 2 stone mullioned windows on the north-east and a musket-loop on the north-west. Remains of stone newel stairs on the east and south with steps up from the headland on the west. Remains of fireplace and slate lintel on the first floor. Owned by Polruan Town Trust. (Listed Building Report)

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 ReferenceSX123510
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Copyright bobchin1941 All Rights Reserved
Copyright bobchin1941 All Rights Reserved

Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

Calculate Print


  • Salter, Mike, 1999, The Castles of Devon and Cornwall (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 31
  • Saunders, Andrew, 1997, Channel Defences (London; Batsford/English Heritage) p. 117
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 20
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 75
  • Oman, Charles W.C., 1926, Castles (1978 edn Beetham House: New York) p. 112 (a confusing passage)
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 2 p. 3
  • Lysons, D. and S., 1814, Magna Britannia Vol. 3 Cornwall online transcription
  • Buck, Samuel and Nathaniel, 1774, Buck's Antiquities (London) Vol. 1 p. 23
  • Grose, Francis, 1787, Antiquities of England and Wales (London) Vol. 8 p. 16-21 online copy


  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 77, 80, 86
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1907, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 1 p. 207, 323 online copy


  • Kenyon, J.R., 1981 'Early Artillery Fortifications in England and Wales: a Preliminary Survey and Re-appraisal' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 138 p. 215