Hull Castle, Kingston upon Hull

Has been described as a Certain Artillery Fort

There are no visible remains

NameHull Castle, Kingston upon Hull
Alternative NamesThe Citadel
Historic CountryYorkshire
Modern AuthorityKingston upon Hull; City of
1974 AuthorityHumberside
Civil ParishKingston upon Hull

Site of Hull Castle. Henrician artillery castle of 1541 sited between two blockhouses and interconnected with them by a curtain wall. Converted to use as a magazine when absorbed into the Citadel c.1680. Finally demolished 1863. Excavation, in 1970, revealed the extent of Italian influence on this fort which was one of the last to be built in Henry VIII's reign, and almost unique in England. The pointed bastions represent an intermediate stage of development between the round flankers represented at Deal and Walmer in Kent, and the straight-sided ones built in Edward VI's reign at Berwick. (PastScape)

The walls on the north, west, and south sufficed for the defence of the town until the 16th century. In 1541, however, Henry VIII ordered not only that the walls should be strengthened but also that a 'castle' and two blockhouses should be built on the east side of the haven. Between October 1541 and December 1543 a total of £23,144 was expended by 'the paymaster of and for the fortifications'. The new works were built partly of brick and partly of stone taken from St. Mary's Church, Hull, and from Meaux Abbey. An estimate of wages to be paid to over 500 workmen and labourers, made in February 1542, mentioned 20 masons at Meaux 'to see it taken down' and at Hull 'to hew', and 60 bricklayers at the fortifications. The works consisted of a blockhouse near the Humber, at the mouth of the haven; another near the river, across from the town's North Gate but a few yards further north; a 'castle' roughly midway between the blockhouses; a curtain wall connecting these three; and a ditch outside to the east. The castle had a three-story inner keep, measuring 66 by 50 feet, a surrounding courtyard, 28 feet wide on two sides and 20 feet on the other two, and an outer wall 174 feet square

The walls of the keep were 8 feet thick and those of the outer wall about 19 feet, with a 5-foot-wide corridor within them all round the building. Projecting from the east and west sides were apartments measuring 45 by 40 feet, each with a gallery above a lower room. Platforms above the courtyard carried the guns. Each blockhouse was roughly trefoil-shaped, with rounded apartments on three sides measuring 34 by 27 feet, and a square projection on the fourth containing the entrance; the inner courtyard was 37 feet square. The walls were 15 feet thick. The blockhouses were two stories high and there were again upper platforms for the guns. (VCH)

Gatehouse Comments

A solitary bartizan, from a later fort on the site, survives although not in its original position. Although the site is scheduled the remains of the Henrician castle are buried and there is nothing visible beside a plaque on the postal sorting office on the site.

- 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 ReferenceTA104287
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved

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  • Evans, D.H., 2010, 'The fortifications of Hull between 1300 and 1700' in Lübecker Kolloquium zur Stadtarchäologie im Hanseraum VII: Die Befestigungen (Lübeck: Verlag Schmidt-Römhild) p. 47-70
  • Harrington, Peter, 2007, The Castles of Henry VIII (Oxford: Osprey) p. 15-16, 28, 29
  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles and Tower Houses of Yorkshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 49
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 285 (slight)
  • Gillett, E. and MacMahon, K.A., 1989, A History of Hull (Hull University Press)
  • Foreman, M.. 1987, An investigation of the archaeological potential of the Hull Citadel (Beverley: Humberside County Council)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 530, lxvii
  • Colvin, H.M., Ransome, D.R. and Summerson, John, 1982, The history of the King's Works Vol. 4: 1485-1660 (part 2) p. 472-7
  • Ryder, P.F., 1982 (paperback edn 1992), The Medieval Buildings of Yorkshire (Ash Grove Book) p. 141
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 245
  • Morley, B.M., 1976, Henry VIII and the Development of Coastal Defence (London) p. 34-5
  • Allison, K.J. (ed), 1969, VCH Yorkshire: East Riding Vol. 1 p. 414-15 online transcription
  • Shelby, L.R., 1967, John Rogers, Tudor Military Engineer (OUP) p. 24–34
  • Hirst, 1913, The Blockhouse of Kingstone-upon-Hull (London) p. 1-6
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 2 p. 227-8 online copy
  • Frost, 1827, Notices relative to ... Hull (London) p. 80, 82-3
  • Tickell, 1798, History of Kingston upon Hull (Hull) p. 851-2
  • Hadley, 1788, New and Complete History ... Kingston upon Hull (Hull) p. 685-6


  • Speed, John, 1611-12, The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain online copy)


  • Foreman, M., 1989 Aug, 'The defences of Hull' Fortress: The castles and fortifications quarterly Vol. 2 p. 38-40
  • CBA Group 4 Register, 1989, 'Hull Castle, Hull, Humberside TA10482876' CBA Forum (newsletter for CBA Yorkshire) p. 19 (brief watching brief report)
  • Cook, 1971, 'Post-Medieval Britain in 1970' Post-Medieval Archaeology Vol. 5 p. 198-201 (excavation report)
  • Shelby, Lon R., 1969, 'Guines Castle and the Development of English Bastioned Fortifications' Château Gaillard Vol. 3 p. 139-43
  • Hirst, J.H., 1895, 'Castle of Kingston-upon-Hull' East Riding Antiquarian Society Vol. 3 p. 24-39

Guide Books

  • Foreman, M.. 1988, Hull Citadel (Beverley: Humberside County Council)

Primary Sources